SGA enacts changes to bring more student voices

Liliana Peterson

Student Government Association (SGA) has goals to enact major changes to complete projects and fix complaints from students, while opening their communication more.

Plans and projects SGA is currently working on include first-year housing satisfaction, security and safety information and satisfaction, meal plan changes, all campus clean-up, a safe consumption campaign, the formation of a diversity action council and scholarship allocation.

SGA has the power to change policies and procedures at Augustana. They also allow for student organizations on campus to file for contingencies, meaning organizations can receive funding from SGA for things like events or trips.

The organization is made up of an exec board as well as senators from various years. Senators represent different parts of the Augustana community, while the exec board heads organization.

A typical meeting includes announcements, contingency presentations, open forum for senators and students to voice ideas and concerns, time for senators to work in their committees and the occasional guest speaker.

This year, SGA changed the way they use committees.  Committee chairs pitch their project idea and senators rank the projects by their interest level.

Based on those rankings, senators are assigned a project to work on with a small group of other senators.

According to Vice President Junior Russell McNab last year the committees were more static in their mission throughout the year.

SGA has many goals to make change at Augustana, including shifting the relationship between students and administration.

Chief of Staff, Junior Nadia Ayensa said, “We want to improve the link between administration and the student body, just so we have that constant communication.”

Ayensa said that way, “Student concerns would be able to reach administrators and those [concerns] would be able to be worked on.”

SGA also has goals within the organization itself. President of SGA, junior Carl Frasor, said, “One of our main goals is to re-organize our senate in a way that we actually get things done.”

Frasor said that in past years, the agenda falls through and things students want to happen don’t happen.

“This year, the main focus is making sure we actually accomplish things,” Frasor said. “Once we set a goal, we have the time and energy and resources to complete the goal.”

Frasor also has his own personal goals: “I personally hope to leave SGA off in a better place than I found it. Making sure we are open with the students about what our goals are, honest about the ways we will be achieving those goals and then also being able to listen to the voices of the students, hear what they want and actually work off of that.”

First-year senators took notice of how much power and influence SGA has on campus and chose to get involved. First-year senator Vanessa Silva said, “In my high school, the students’ voices were never heard.”

Siva said, “I heard about how influential SGA is here and they really emphasized how important it is to get the international student’s voices heard.”

First-year senators are a fresh perspective to SGA and bring something new to the table.

First-year senator Bella Gmitrovic said, “The freshman class is going to have different views on what we’re spending money on. For example, the Westerlin sidewalks are awful,”

Gmitrovic said, “Plus it’s all new. Seniors are accumulated to living here now and we’ve only been here for 5 weeks. Coming in, you can see right away that there are issues at Augustana. It’s easier to see since we’re new.”

Students not involved in SGA can voice their ideas and concerns in a variety of ways.

This includes talking to an SGA senator who will bring it up in their weekly meeting, attend the weekly meeting or attend open office hours Frasor hosts.

The meetings are every Tuesday in Gavle 2 at 8 p.m.

Frasor holds office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30-3 p.m. and Friday’s by appointment.

Students are encouraged to speak their opinion and attend SGA meetings.

Ayensa said, “I want students to know that their concerns are very valid. They have the power to make changes on campus they just have to speak about it because SGA is here for them.”