As students come back to school for the year and begin to settle into a routine, jobs and the often strange hours of college life, student associations have also begun preparations for the upcoming year. One important organization, if not the most significant to the student body, is Student Government Association.
SGA is often an overlooked outlet for students to voice concerns, ideas and opinions. Leadership of SGA is reaching out to the students to aid in change.
“We want students to voice their ideas,” Director of Student Oraganizations Kristy Brischke said. “Everyone can participate in student government; you don’t have to be elected to help with change. We want clear communication with the administration and clear communication with the students themselves. Our goal is to work as a clear channel between the two.”
One issue student government faces is getting out information to the students themselves. They have tried to reconcile the issue electronically.
“Our online voting last year seemed to work well and was more popular with students,” Brischke said. “We are looking into trying to increase our online capability as another way to get students more involved.”
Newly elected freshman internal senator, biology major Andrew Christian, said, “I think the online voting is much better than any kind of written ballot. I believe it makes the voting based much more on who people believe will be the best candidate for the job rather than who is the most popular.”
Senior student body president Tatenda Tavaziva said, “Unlike in years past, information about student government is now readily accessible online to anyone interested.”
One way for people to have their voice heard is through Student Speak, which is when “the Vice President of Student Affairs, Steve Theodore, and myself sit and answer questions in the SUB,” Tavaziva said. “Or you could voice your opinion by just stopping me or anyone in SGA as we are walking and telling us any ideas, suggestions or proposals you might have.”
These are just small examples of the steps the organization is taking to get students more involved.
“Last year, through God’s help, I believe SGA laid a very solid foundation in terms of being the voice of the students,” Tavaziva said. “In my second year as president, I would like to see us raise the bar in every aspect of student government both internally and externally.”
Raising the bar will be quite an accomplishment after the successful year in 2007-2008. Last year alone, SGA was responsible for not only doing away with the sticky sign-in/sign-out dorm process but also with the end of late night fines and the institution of visitation hours for dorms. They are also responsible for the extended hours in the Crusader Cafe as well as many other minor and major campus improvements.
“This year we will look towards instituting recycling programs on campus and being better stewards of our resources,” Tavaziva said. “We are also looking into solving the parking problem by encouraging students to ride bicycles. This may be achieved by installing more bike racks and possibly providing SGA bikes spread all over campus which students can ride at no cost.”
“We have a lot going on here at UMHB and people don’t know about it,” senior class president Mia Casey said. “Reaching Out happens twice every year, and we have trouble getting people to come — not because they don’t want to but because they don’t know about it.”
The 2008-2009 school year promises to be a good year for SGA, but the students elected to their positions need the help of the student body to better serve the university.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up and voice the things that you want to change,” Casey said. “Nothing is too big, and nothing is too small, if you want it changed, do something about it. Speak up for the students and speak up for yourself.”