Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Rush and Nigate aim to showcase student government

On Tuesday, April 30, juniors Neleigh Rush and Tsion Nigate were named president and vice president of student government (SGA). They ran on four pillars: transparency, approachability, sustainability and international student engagement.

Before Tuesday, Rush was junior senator and rotating committee chair while Nigate was international senator and international committee chair.

“The campaign process is a really stressful time,” Rush said. “But it pushes you to get to know more people.”

Rush is a political science and history major with a nonprofit leadership minor, and Nigate is a data analytics and international business major. They needed to gather 300 signatures to be able to campaign.

Events before the election included a meet and greet, where students in the Brew asked candidates about their platforms, and a debate, which was held in the Gävle rooms.

“The meet and greet made me look back on our platform,” Nigate said. “It kinda made me look deeper into whether we had the answers for questions people were asking.”

Rush and Nigate said their first pillar, transparency, refers to improving communication between SGA, students, administration and faculty. Their second pillar, approachability, refers to increasing student awareness of SGA.

Their third pillar, sustainability, refers to reducing waste. Rush mentioned Sierra Club and Augie Acres, which have reached more students in recent years. 

In addition to this, Rush and Nigate had two ideas: a will-down system for international students who may not have dorm essentials when they arrive and an expansion of groups on campus that promote sustainability.

“Tsion and I are coming from the angle of supporting groups on campus who are doing great work,” Rush said.

According to Rush and Nigate, the will-down system would enable international students to more easily hand down large items, such as mini-fridges, when they leave Augustana.

At the moment, some international students encounter problems with storage, while others find it inefficient to buy things that could otherwise be handed down.

According to Rush, the topic of food waste at the CSL also concerns SGA, but that issue proves more challenging to handle.

“I think with issues where the administration might not be willing to budge because of cost, that’s when surveys come to be really important,” Rush said.

According to Nigate, SGA recently surveyed international students. Different events have aimed to understand what issues international students at Augustana face, while the data itself can be useful in communicating with the administration.

“[Global Voices] was on Halloween,” Nigate said. “That was the reason we didn’t have much turnout. However, students did show up and based on that, we drafted some feedback.”

Even though Global Voices was held last semester, it inspired the recent survey of international students, the results of which are not finalized yet.

Their fourth pillar, international student engagement, refers to continuing to look out for international students and understand the obstacles they may encounter.

First-Year Omar Timoumi is a residential senator for SGA and was president of the student government in high school. He was at the debate and voted in the election.

“[The debate] was a little underwhelming,” Timoumi said.

Timoumi estimated only about 20 students outside of SGA attended the debate, which indicates low interest in SGA. He said that if students have concerns about Augustana, SGA is meant to be their outlet.

Like Rush and Nigate, Timoumi also wishes for better awareness of SGA among students. Recent endeavors to improve this by SGA include the SGA Speaks document, which lists important information about the school, and the SGA newsletter, which includes basic information about the makeup of SGA.

While Timoumi did not find the debate controversial, he did mention there are times when SGA spends a surprising amount of time debating.

“We do have a debate if a contingency isn’t agreed upon,” Timoumi said. “A contingency is the SGA term for a group coming in and asking for funding.”

According to Timoumi, there are significant differences between being student government president in high school compared to college.

“I knew most of the people in my class by name [in high school],” Timoumi said. “It was a lot easier to make that connection.”

In addition, there was no presidential debate at his high school, and with just under 700 students, his responsibility was somewhat less than that of SGA at Augustana.

Even so, Timoumi made an effort to address problems at his school and hopes SGA can continue to do that for Augustana.

“My main plank was revitalizing student spirit,” Timoumi said. “It’s something I wish was addressed more in this election.”

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