by: Cody Muzio
photo by: Kelcie Hathcock
Trop: What made you decide to run for President in the first place?
Thompson: I decided I wanted to run for SGA president because, I saw a substantial need for a greater amount of civic engagement on the part of the Student Government Association. I felt as though the SGA which was said to be the representative of this student body I felt that the SGA was not doing an adequate job in that regard I felt like we could be doing so much more. We could be representing our students in the state house in Montgomery, with our city government, county government, etc. And that was the main reason I decided to run.
Trop: And do you feel like you accomplished that?
Thompson: I felt like we’re making small steps that goal to me was never going to be a win or a loss. My job in my first year was going to be a to make a concerted effort to make sure a solid groundwork was laid so that future administrations from now on can follow the same path and can see how its supposed to be done. We have to create the right groups within SGA like the government’s affairs council to carry out that work and carry out those goals and I think that thus far, and keep in mind we have three months left until I officially have to leave, I think that thus far we’ve done a good job of that.
Trop: You said that during your first year, you were heavily considering running again, are there any other plans you have for your second term, should you have won it that you are putting by the wayside now?
Thompson: Not putting by the wayside, I thought I was gonna be running no doubt, no ifs ands or buts about it. I had a campaign platform laid out well in advance that focused on more events, university events that catered toward the student body. We’re going to have an outstanding opportunity with the new facilities that are opening up like Trojan Area. I wanted to see the university and the University Activity Committee make a hard effort to make sure those events take place. That was the first aspect of my campaign platform. The second was an athletic affinity program that rewards students that partake in all athletic events. They have great systems in Alabama and Auburn, and I think we can duplicate it here. Have I left it wayside? Absolutely not, because one of the last things I want to do before I leave office is see that athletic affinity program be put in place. We have already been in touch with athletic director John Hartwell, and we look forward to meeting with him soon to talk about this in further detail. My third area that I was going to campaign on was developing innovative safety methods both on and off campus. I think there is a dire need for us to have a lit walking trail around campus. So that students can know that, like me I like to run and the only time that I can run is at night. I wanted to see us have a lighted running and walking trail where our students know to run there because it is very well lighted. I think there is a dire need for us to have a streamlined method of game day traffic where we shut down three for four streets that lead towards 231. To where when everyone is leaving on game day that all are all going in one direction, when they come into the stadium they are all coming in one direction. Streamline that and make it very simple. The fourth area I wanted to campaign on was to continue the partnership with the city of troy. Has that followed by the waist side? Absolutely not, because I am going to be working for the city of Troy next year. I want to see us continue to look at projects and initiatives such as the student discount card program and build upon those things and make the city of troy a place that our students can be proud to call home. The last thing I was going to campaign on and still am going to hopefully continue if I am fortunate enough to be named director of the government affairs council is continued governmental advocacy at the state level. There you go five areas of campaign that I was going to campaign on. But I hope that the next SGA president will take that agenda and will be open to those ideas and continue the work that we’ve started this year.
Trop: Speaking of going to work in the mayor’s office in the coming month, it sounds like you are leveraging that to an extent to continue to better both the university and the city and their working relationship.
Thompson: Yes, well I mean that is beauty of me going to work for mayor reeves. It is going to allow me the opportunity to work on essentially a lot of things that I have already been working on here as the SGA president. It will also allow me to really focus on city-oriented things that will benefit both the university and the student body. Because a lot of students recognize that his city is a very viable recruiting tool for the university. It will either hurt the university tremendously or it will help the university tremendously. We have to be continually working on things as a city to make it very accessible and we have to do things from an economic development standpoint that will cater towards a student demographic recruiting businesses to troy that are suitable for a collegiate lifestyle. Not meaning that we should do away with the businesses that are already existing that cater to an older demographic but we need to bring in more businesses that college students will support, and I think we are going to do a lot of that stuff. That is going to be a bulk of my focus when I am working in the mayor’s office.
Trop: What is the biggest thing that you or the SGA as a whole has accomplished during your term?
Thompson: Again, that is one of things that I am so proud because I came into this office wanting to forge another path for the SGA regarding to governmental relations, and we’ve done that. This student discount card program is huge, and it’s a win-win situation for both the city of Troy and our students. Governmental relationships have a lot to do with projects like that. That project wouldn’t have come to fruition if it hadn’t have been from the brainstorming efforts of the governmental affairs council. The legislative reconvenes today, and we already have six lobbying trips set up in the next month to go to Montgomery and advocate for the student body. Was that the case in previous years? Not at all. I am so proud of the steps we’ve made to start directing our focus in that direction.
Trop: What do you hope to see in the three months you’ve got left?
Thompson: I want to see us follow through with our lobbying and advocacy commitments in Montgomery. I also want to see the student discount card program get off the ground, and I want to see a big success in its first few months. I want to see the athletic affinity program created that’s going to be something that’s going to be very fitting and very beneficial to the athletic department and to our student populous.
Trop: You said you didn’t put your previous campaign points by the wayside including the athletic affinity program, things like the safety initiative. Are you hitting the fast forward on those as well or is that something you’re going to leave to you successor?
Thompson: Well look, I think it’s going to be a mixture of both. I’ve got to analyze things from my new roll working in the mayor’s office, how can I work on the safety things from there? You know with regards to the streamlined game day traffic that’s something the city can definitely help. Am I setting down by the wayside? No. I’ve just got to figure out what I can and can’t work on, and the stuff I can’t work on yes I will hand it off to my successor.
Trop: After the end of the semester and you have departed from the SGA in an official fashion, full time in the mayor’s office, what do you hope to see the SGA do in your absence?
Thompson: I want to see the SGA continue to focus on a wide variety of things because if it does that, if it focuses on student participation at athletic events, creating ways for various organizations to sponsor activities that cater towards all students, if it focuses on student safety, if it focuses on governmental relations and civic engagements, and I think when you have an SGA that focuses on all of those things, which in a sense I we have done that this year, I think that is when SGA reaches its full potential. That is the main thing I want to see when I leave. I want SGA to focus on all of those things and do a good job focusing on all of those things.
Trop: Would you say then that the SGA during your time has reached its full potential?
Thompson: No. I think that there is always stuff that we can do. There is always steps we can take to improve as a group, to serve the student body better, and I don’t think SGA will ever reach its full potential. It is literally limitless. There is so much we can do, this group can do. It just has to make an effort to want to do the work that no one else wants to do, to do the work that is difficult and takes some time but you have to have a group of leaders that want to serve the student body to the best of their ability.
Trop: Here is a bit of a less comfortable question. Both of the current vice presidents have pronounced their intention to run again. They’ll be campaigning in the next couple of weeks for your seat. Will you be throwing your weight behind either of them?
Thompson: I will be throwing behind the candidate that I feel is best suited for this position. I would be lying to you if I told you that I have not made up my mind who that is. I will not publicly announce my support until the actual campaign period begins.
Trop: Are there any additional projects that you’ll be working on in the mayor’s office aside from what you have already begun?
Thompson: I have about four or five projects that I am working on right now. All of those are works in progress and I’m sure that in five or six months down the road when we get them off the ground and running, I’m sure I will be presented with another project. What that is I have no idea, but it will be on my desk as soon as I finish the many projects I have to work on right now. I can’t wait.