At the first SGA formal meeting of the semester that was held early this week new president Rachel Lawler expressed that she wants SRU to be an “open and inclusive environment for all students.”
While SGA states every semester that they want to be an advocate for students and help them to address issues, it is important for both students and those serving on SGA to work together and be willing to support a two way street.
The most recent SGA elections show that not every student is involved, with only 1,854 votes being cast in the election last semester. With a campus of over 8,000 students, this number alone is evidence that students don’t see it worthwhile to vote, especially considering that this is a high number for the SRSGA elections. This could be attributed to students not feeling like the actual party in charge matters, or they they don’t think SGA as a whole matters.
Students need to realize that SGA is a valuable resource. Creating a club on campus is relatively easy, in part because of SGA, which also provides thousands of dollars to fund equipment, transportation to conferences, and pay for tournament fees for sports teams.
Inclusion is a two way street however, SGA needs to find some ways to make students feel more included in campus decisions. Having a formal meeting every other week is good for SGA to get things done, but hardly any students go or even know what happens at these meetings, especially after the first formal meeting.
Lawler said she wants SGA to be “a real advocate for concerned students.” While SGA may have the resources and power to represent and advocate for concern students, if the majority of students are unaware of what SGA can do for them, or that they are a resource, SGA’s ability to be a voice for students is severely limited.
In our view, SGA could take a page out of interim president Philip Way’s book. So far in this semester Way has been very transparent with students about his role and what he hopes to accomplish in his time as president, including this week’s State of the University address as well as meeting individually with several student organizations early this month. Way has also spent time passing out muffins in the quad, making sure students know who he is.
With an almost entirely new executive board, SGA could benefit from more students knowing who they are and what services they can provide. The Rocket Staff thinks that SGA can do a lot of good for students on campus, but activism goes both ways. SGA needs to open themselves up more to students, and students need to become more engaged with what is going on and how they can affect that. While this can be a complex task on a campus like our own, it is SGA’s responsibility as the governing body of students to not only govern, but understand and represent their constituents, their needs, and the SRU community as a whole.