On Friday, April 25, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the first State of the Student Body Address, wrapping up a year of change, progress and legislation.
The address opened with remarks from SGA President Andrew Messick (‘19), who discussed the goals, successes and pitfalls of this year’s SGA.
At the beginning of the academic year, the SGA had planned to get started on major projects as soon as the semester started. “We really wanted to build a strong foundation to make sure that going forward, future SGAs can start in the way that we did in the beginning, and past SGAs haven’t,” Messick said, but also noted that “in actuality, we had a lot of damage control to begin with. The beginning of the [fall] semester was awful,” referring to the student resistance and ensuing Student Speakout that occured in response to new alcohol enforcement guidelines. “Part of that damage control was making sure that we, as a student body, through the SGA, could enhance our relationship with the administration,” said Messick.
In regards to changes that have occured over the past year, Messick mentioned internal reforms such as a restructuring of the executive board into the executive council and the representative council, and many other, smaller changes— like assigned seating at SGA meetings. “I made new seating arrangements. I tried to make sure people sat with their cohorts, I tried to make it so people could feel welcome and invited to come in and sit and watch us,” said Messick.
Messick highlighted several accomplishments of this year’s SGA, including the passage of large-scale student life projects such as free menstrual products and an emergency contraceptive vending machine, funded by major cuts to unnecessary spending. “We’ve had a more fiscally conscious SGA. It has been so hard to get funding out of them, when people come to them for money, they just don’t want to give it up,” Messick laughed.
Concluding, Messick recognized individuals who have contributed to the large amount of progress that the SGA has made this year, including executive board members and first year senators.
Next, Director of Campus Programming Rose Glenn (‘19) spoke on changes and successes within SGA’s Programs Board, which has also faced large-scale restructuring under her leadership. Glenn highlighted the cascade of Programs Board events held this year, the expansion of Programs Board’s social media presence, and large changes in Programs Board’s membership structure.
Finally, SGA President-elect Rebecca Malaga (‘20) spoke on her plans for the coming year, setting goals to continue on the successes of this year’s SGA by bridging gaps between students and SGA, and promoting transparency, efficiency and integrity throughout the Senate. “I want to make sure every student feels welcome at SGA, feels included in our process, feels like they can come talk to us. I want to make sure that everyone feels like they can have a voice,” Malaga said.
“I’m glad that we had a high staff turnout,” Glenn said of the address, “I think it would have been better if more students and faculty came, so we could be more transparent about what we are doing.”