I decided to run for Student Government Association (SGA) at the end of election season last year in part as a reaction to the lack of efficacy I noticed during the presidential election. I ran with the goal of providing a voice to my fellow students and in particular those who feel they have yet to have one.
Whether I have achieved this goal is a matter of interpretation; what is certain, however, is that I always had my fellow students’ and the university’s best interest at heart. This was true at orientation, where I volunteered to chair the Open Educational Resources Committee, during the Greek Council decision, in the fulfillment of vacancies following multiple resignations and most recently in the constitutional review process.
As is the case with any kind of decision making involving other people, it is impossible to please everyone. There will always be someone who feels their needs are not being met, or that the system does not work for them. To those people I extend a challenge, the same one I extend to myself every day: push yourself to see that which makes you uncomfortable and displeased as something positive, and if you are still unhappy and uncomfortable then become active.
My decision to defend Greek Council and vote in favor of both protecting its University-sponsored Organization status and funding its full budget was based on the idea that Greek Council, while it may represent (only?) 25 percent of the student body, contributes to the vibrancy and climate that encompasses our entire campus.
With that being said, I acknowledge that wrong methods were sometimes pursued to achieve this protection. During one of last semester’s more desperate moments, I supported a radical plan that sought to impeach several senators. This was later dubbed the ‘Struby Plan’ (against my will). At the time, frustrated, tired and annoyed by the lack of respect and attention to other people’s time, it seemed like the right course of action. While the plan was supported by a majority of my fellow senators, in retrospect, it was a mistake. It was a hasty decision based on unresolved emotions.
But as most mature adults know, mistakes are an important part of life and most certainly of college. They provide us with a chance to learn, grow and become more well-rounded individuals. That was my goal in joining the Constitutional Review Committee. I wanted to ensure that the plan I had supported would not be possible again and that the unacceptable circumstances which appeared to necessitate it would not arise again. I feel very strongly that we have accomplished this mission and that we have done so in an inclusive way that takes into account the opinions of the entire senate.
Nonetheless, I am, like I said, aware that as a human being in a position that requires decision making, you can never please everyone. So to those who dislike the constitutional amendments proposed (which the student body will have the opportunity to vote on in the upcoming elections), I have one request: push yourself to see it from my point of view or that of one of my fellow senators. Try to understand how these changes might be beneficial and if you still feel that they are the wrong choice, become active. Run. Campaign. Do the work.
SGA is under-appreciated on this campus, and this is frustrating, plain and simple. The officeholders within SGA that dedicate themselves to fulfilling the duties asked of them do more work than the average student could conceive of doing for something considered an extracurricular activity. We go to three-hour-long meetings, give up time on the weekends, pour through documents and policies from other universities, travel for conferences, and yes, also give money to organizations that put on the events that so many of us know and love.
The point of this is not to ask for thanks or praise, in some ways receipt of that takes away what is so very special about SGA: it is a group of students committing themselves to something that at times is exhausting, frustrating and thankless, but they do it because they seek to be a voice and an advocate for their fellow students. I am grateful to the senators I served with both past and present, to my vice president despite our occasional clashes, and I am most grateful to my president who has been a rock throughout.
Due to my studying abroad next fall I will not be running for re-election to SGA but I would encourage every student on this campus to very seriously consider running. For every negative experience I have had two positive ones. For every disagreement with a fellow officeholder, I have gained a new perspective. For every frustrating day, there has been a day for which I was grateful. Run for SGA: it is an experience unlike any other.