Students endured the rain yesterday to make it to voting for SGA, but what changes and effects on campus life were they voting for?
Usually, change begins with student complaints through surveys, meetings or going directly to the office to complain. The SGA then considers a solution to relevant problems and proposes these to administration.
“The thing is, our administration is located on campus but you never really see our administration as being the one that goes to the classrooms and the dorms and safety on campus,” said Heath Barton, a junior risk management insurance major and upcoming SGA president from Opp. “SGA is the voice of the entire student body on campus. We hear complaints and ideas, and we present them to the administration as a body.”
Matthew Thompson, a junior accounting major from Montgomery, said he feels that SGA achieved many of the goals he set out to accomplish this past year as president.
Thompson said that, according to empirical data, this year has experienced the easiest parking experience after rezoning of the lots.
“This will only get better with the new hall parking opening up,” he said.
“When I am working with a new set of SGA officers and senators, I often tell them that sometimes the ideas that they have and the ideas that they work on may take place immediately, and sometimes it may be three or four years down the road before we see their ideas take place,” Barbara Patterson, director of student involvement, said. “For example, SGA has been pushing the university on Sorority Hill parking and begging for that to be done, and that is being done right now.”
Thompson said that SGA is currently discussing changing the dining hall hours “to accommodate most normal people.” He noted that most students on campus are not eating dinner at 4:30 p.m. when the dining hall opens, but instead have jobs, practices or other responsibilities that keep them out far later than when it closes at 7 p.m.
“It’s not always that the university doesn’t want to do it; it’s that it doesn’t have the resources,” Patterson said of unaddressed student complaints and projects. “It has to be planned and budgeted for.”
Patterson mentioned the building of the new campus Recreation Center as an example of this.
Actively in the works, according to Thompson, is diversifying SGA itself and the voices that are heard.
Thompson said that historically SGA has been predominantly Greek, causing the majority of the campus to be underrepresented. SGA is now taking steps to move away from this toward representation that is more balanced.
At last week’s SGA meeting, an amendment passed making it mandatory that a seat in the Senate must be taken by an international student because inernationals make up a large percentage of students on campus.
Thompson said that integration of a broader variety of students into the student governmental process has been what he is most proud of from his term as president.
“You’re not going to make everybody happy with every choice you make, but we need to make sure that the only groups being represented aren’t the one or two being loudest,” he said. “I really want the next SGA to keep a diversity mindset.”
Patterson said that of all the ideas proposed to administration, she would guess that about 70 percent of them become visible changes on campus.
“Of that 30 percent that doesn’t, sometimes it’s all about money and the university having the resources to do it,” she said. “Sometimes it’s something the university just can’t work on for some reason or the other.”
Barton said that his office will always be open to hear the opinions of the student body and begin the process of change.