The Slippery Rock Student Government Association is the most influential student-run groups on campus and provides the most direct avenue for students to have their voices heard by administration. Despite this, SGA ends the semester with nine vacant positions, nearly one-third of all senator posts. Student government has been a force for positive change on this campus, but a current crisis of apathy has left our government without a mandate from the people it serves. As it is clear that the student body has shown no interest in contributing to our campus’ success, it must be up to SGA to understand how to reconnect with their constituents.
Students usually pay very little attention to their elected representatives as SGA meetings have historically had low attendance. Usually the only students at formal meetings are the voting members of the senate and members of clubs or organizations asking for money or reporting back on how money they already received had been spent. Very rarely do students without planned business come to meetings to simply to learn about what student government is doing. Every undergraduate student pays approximately $200 as a fee every semester which funds SGA but very few students take an interest in seeing how it is spent. Last semester OneSRU ran and won unopposed further illustrating the lack of participation in student government. Even now nine open senate positions remain unfilled, six of which have been open since the beginning of the semester. Students aren’t interested in SGA, but SGA also isn’t making it a priority to get more students involved with them.
Open senator positions have not been advertised on any official SGA social media accounts since before classes began for the semester. The only mention of available positions since then was a post on CORE on September 6. When meetings are sparsely attended and interest in student government is low, additional time should be allocated to help bridge the divide between students and senate. No students were waiting in the wings to take over positions. If the senate wanted to fill positions then it was on them to drum up interest and make sure students from all corners of campus were represented and additional measures should have been taken to attract qualified candidates. Currently, 19 of 21 senators come from the Colleges of Liberal arts and Health and Environmental Sciences. Both the College of Business and the College of Education only have one representative each. OneSRU campaigned on a platform that included creating sustainable long-term change, but without representation from across all parts of campus, any change made now wouldn’t accurately reflect the needs of the whole campus and likely would need to be revisited in the near future.
In the upcoming evaluation of a possible senate reconstruction that was approved during Monday night’s meeting, student voices are expected to come first. SGA did a great job reaching out to the student body in regards to the presidential search with #MySRUPresident and finding out what students wanted in their new administrator. Now it time to make sure that the SGA knows what students want to see in their senate. Students don’t currently engage with the senate and if the only students involved in the process are those who are already a part of the small group it is unlikely that any change that comes will help bring new students into the fold if their concerns and reservations are not addressed. If SGA is goint to make lasting, sustainable change all voices need to be heard.