Gus McKenzie can often be found in admissions, giving tours and explaining why Troy hopefuls and their families should choose Troy University.
McKenzie, a junior communication major from Monroeville and recently elected Student Government Association (SGA) president, said he found success in the March election by going to speak with campus organizations, sealing a win by 481 votes.
He will take office April 24, succeeding Ashli Morris.
“I tried to speak with as many campus organizations as I could, just trying to feel out, if elected, what do they want me to do,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said it is difficult to get things done in the position of SGA president.
“The role in itself is inherently a voice,” he said. “You voice opinions to the upper administration and hope that it happens.”
He stressed his desire to really know what the students want, encouraging communication between SGA and the students it represents.
The SGA president presents ideas to Troy’s Board of Trustees, which meets three times a year. Those three meetings are heavily dependent on what gets done.
“With those three chances, I want to know what the students want me to say,” McKenzie said. “It’s not what I want to say; it’s what they want to say.”
One of McKenzie’s platform points was improving campus transportation.
“Parking is a battle they’ve been fighting forever as SGA, and it’s not getting any better, so instead of fighting the parking hassle, I wanted to fight the driving hassle,” he said. “If you don’t have to drive to campus, you don’t have to park on campus.”
McKenzie said he hopes to make the bus system more reliable and consistent and advertise it better. According to McKenzie, Troy’s TransLoc app is one option for reliable transportation around Troy.
“You can see it all on your phone, and it’s pretty cool, but a lot of students don’t know it exists,” he said.
Another presidency goal for McKenzie is making good use of the university’s funding increase from the state.
“The other thing I wanted to work on is trying to use that (money increase) to hire more full-time faculty, aka more professors,” he said. “More professors means smaller classes because the number of students keeps growing, but the number of faculty does not.
“So, we keep our small classes, and your adviser would have less students to advise.”
McKenzie said administration will ultimately make the call as to where more faculty is needed.
He also said that he wants to involve SGA in more international affairs since SGA does not have a presence in international orientation.
“SGA is not a main focus of international students, mostly because a lot of them don’t know or understand what SGA is or what the role is,” McKenzie said.
“We are playing with adding another international student senate seat, which would be another strictly international student.
“Looking to add one more focused seat for them would be nice to get them more involved.”
McKenzie also stressed the importance of encouraging students to get involved with on-campus activities.
“I wanted more students to be involved across the board,” he said.
He said he hopes more students will find reasons to stay in Troy on the weekends.
“Troy, as a city and as a university, does not keep you here on the weekends,” he said. “The friends you want to hang out with on the weekends keep you here.
“Getting involved with at least one thing will keep you here. Make those friendships, and it’s really crucial to university life.”
Additionally, McKenzie expressed excitement in the upcoming experience of leading SGA.
“Being a white Greek man, I’ve never had trouble getting my voice heard,” he said. “Getting out of my comfort zone and meeting students who I may have never met before because I never tried — I think that’s going to be super beneficial to my growth as a person, but also SGA’s growth, becoming more diverse and expressing more opinions than the people in SGA.”
The outgoing SGA president, Ashli Morris, said she is excited for the incoming group of executive officers for SGA.
“(McKenzie) has served our university in a variety of ways while he’s been a student here, and I am confident in his ability to lead as SGA president,” Morris said. “Of course, so much of this job will require him to learn and grow, but I believe that he, as well as the rest of the executive board, will do an outstanding job throughout their year of leadership.”