When I came to St. Mary’s as a freshman (way back in the day when we were still called freshmen), the thought of joining the Student Government Association (SGA) had never crossed my mind. It still hadn’t more than a year later when then-SGA President Sunny Schnitzer suggested I apply to be the Student Trustee.
I followed her advice, and when I got the position, even though I wasn’t obligated to go until my senior year, I started attending the meetings. That’s when I discovered, much to my surprise, that the SGA actually does stuff.
I was working under my high school and middle school assumption, when we had SGA and they met every once in a while so they could put things on their college applications/resumes and to plan one or two dances. No way in the world was I interested in doing something that didn’t really do anything.
College SGA is so different, but since I know that’s not good enough to convince any of you, allow me to tell you everything that it has done lately.
First, the SGA is the primary source of funding for the more than one hundred clubs and organizations we have on campus. Over the course of a year, it gives more than $160,000 to clubs. Other things it does each and every year include funding SafeRide, The Point News, Hawk Radio, the Dove Yearbook, and Programs Board (which does the weekly films, world carnival, coffeehouse, comedians, the Nest, and much more).
It hires recycling coordinators, composting coordinators, and an athletic trainer for club sports. Each year it also pays for the purchase of renewable energy credits to completely offset the carbon emissions from our electricity.
Outside of the yearly expenditures, the SGA passes numerous pieces of legislation to accomplish more things.
Some of these include the geothermal wells at the river center, the new club sports field between Waring Commons and Lot T, half the floating docks for recreational dinghies, the barn restoration next to the campus farm, the water trampoline, the Student Investment Group, the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Loan Fund, and, most recently, funding for the Campus Bike Shop (which will hopefully become an annual expenditure).
These aren’t all the things the SGA does, but rather a select list of some of the more prominent ones. With an annual budget of over $400,000, the St. Mary’s SGA has some real power. It is an opportunity for students to effect change on campus and to get events they want to happen to really happen.
It is a way to gain experience working with a collaborative body towards the betterment of the community. It is the voice of the students on all things, whether they are in line with the administration or in stark contrast. It is a tool with which to shape the College.
Any student can go speak their mind at a weekly meeting, contact their senators, or even run for office. Regardless of how you choose to get involved, you should do something. This is our home, and it’s time for us to step up and make it the best home possible.
For more information on the SGA, visit their website at www.smcm.edu/sga.
See you on the Path!