On April 11, Nicole Dunlop, a sophomore homeland security major, was officially elected as president of the Student Government Association (SGA), following in the footsteps of current President Dallas Kline.
When reflecting on this past year of SGA, Kline emphasized that the internal culture of SGA changed, especially with the training of younger senators.
“We really empowered the senate, told them how to use Robert’s Rules, gave younger, newer senators information they needed to be successful, which always hasn’t been done in the past,” Kline said.
With the introduction of new projects, such as the food pantry and senate restructure, Kline said that SGA grew as an organization, but not without mistakes.
“Because we did stuff so new and we were always trying to find the best way to make things happen, things didn’t go over as smoothly as they did in the past, but that kind of comes from change,” Kline said. “Facing that adversity of change, there were some times where we definitely made some mistakes, we messed up, but that comes with the growth of the organization.”
Dunlop, who is currently the vice president of internal affairs, agreed with Kline and added that SGA embraced change that will carry into next year, although some initiatives from SGA were difficult to accomplish within one year.
“It’s important because our terms are only one year long that we make sure that we carry on what was done last year because it’s really hard to make those huge changes in just one year,” Dunlop said. “So, passing the torch is a very important time.”
Next year, Dunlop will encourage students across campus to discuss more issues with SGA members, especially during the open forum section of formal meetings. Dunlop also hopes to host town hall sessions, including one about mental health.
“I think definitely one of the biggest [goals] is making sure students know they can come and talk to use during open forum or just speaking to senators who are in their class, and also vice versa, making sure senators and E-board are reaching out to students around us and getting opinions on what to do better, so just that two-way communication,” Dunlop said.
Dunlop also hopes to encourage more collaboration between SGA’s six committees: internal affairs, rules and policies, finance, student and academic affairs, social justice and campus outreach. For example, rules and policies and internal affairs are currently working together to revise SGA’s election policies and procedures.
“We realized that we’re missing a gap in either our bylaws or our constitution or however we decide to do that,” Kline said.
At Monday night’s formal meeting, SGA approved a senate restructure that would represent students by college, residence and other offices on campus (including the Women’s Center and Pride Center).
One major campaign goal for Kline’s current executive board was to research and eventually implement a new structure. The current senate structure is based on where students live and may not accurate represent all SRU students.
While reflecting on her tenure as president, Kline said that while her executive board accomplished a major campaign goal through the senate restructure, the priority of SGA’s accomplishments isn’t the legacy of her and her executive board, but instead the future SRU student body.
“We’re changing a lot, and I’m glad to see that I was part of that change,” Kline said. “Once again, it’s not really about our legacy—it’s about what’s going to happen for students in the future.”
As a sophomore, Dunlop will still be enrolled at SRU to see the new structure take effect in fall 2020.
“I’m really excited for it,” Dunlop said. “I think it will be interesting to see how it changes SGA.”Dunlop and the restructuring committee will oversee the next step ahead: to research a possible executive board restructure.
As for Kline, she will also be around to see the new structure take effect. The senior sport management major will return to SRU in the fall to begin a master’s in student affairs and higher education and will serve as a graduate assistant in Career Development and Education. While she is unsure of her future involvement within SGA when she returns as a graduate student, Kline said she will still support SGA at its meetings and events.
“I’m not leaving until I see [the senate restructure] happen,” Kline said.