Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

SGA Speaks works to empower students

The Student Government Association (SGA) released its latest project, SGA Speaks, on Wednesday, April 17 in an email to the student body. SGA Speaks, according to the document, serves as an official Augustana “how to” guide, full of different resources for students to use and can be found here.

According to senior Rachel Nandelenga, the president of SGA, and senior Amen Bekele, the vice president of SGA, the resource guide was a result of Nandelenga and Bekele’s platform of transparency during their candidacy in 2023. 

Senior Alexis Osei-Kofi, the speaker of the senate of SGA, said that their campaign was unique.

“Something that really stood out to me about Rachel and Amen is the fact that they had an idea and they really wanted transparency because that was one of the things they ran on,” Osei-Kofi said. “And they did provide that transparency with the student body by creating SGA Speaks.”

However, the resource guide wasn’t pitched until the beginning of the spring semester. 

“When it was pitched to the Senate and Amen, we were able to narrow it down,” Nandelenga said. “We’ll just have it as a document or booklet, and then, right now, we’re trying to see what else we can do in terms of making it accessible next year as well.”

A note at the beginning of SGA Speaks reads, “SGA Speaks is designed to empower students by offering a deeper understanding of Augustana’s administrative structure and operations.”

Bekele said she wishes to provide transparency to new students.

“Augustana is a very resourceful school, people just don’t know the resources,” Bekele said.

Bekele and Osei-Kofi both said that many do not understand the function of SGA.

“Many people ask what SGA is,” Osei-Kofi said. “I feel like SGA is known as a piggy bank on campus, which is one of our roles, to get funding to student groups… However, SGA’s main goal is to bridge the gap between the students and the administration.” 

SGA has more insight into administrative matters than the average student, Nandelenga said.  They come together at the beginning of the academic year, and administrators provide SGA with valuable information about campus and community resources. 

“Fall semester, we listen to all these speakers come in,” Nandelenga said. “And it was like, okay, we have all this information, but how do we make sure that we get it to all the students on campus?” 

Nandelenga and Bekele said they sought to find a concise and engaging way to present this information to the student body. Then, the SGA Speaks project was born. 

“College is already a really stressful experience. Obviously, the school is not going to bombard you with all this information,” Nandelenga said. “It’s like you kind of have to go out there and see what you’re willing to find based on what [base information] they provide you. Hopefully this goes a step further to make it more digestible.” 

Many new students want to seek out campus resources that will allow them to grow academically and socially, according to Bekele, yet they may struggle to get involved in campus life. Bekele said she speaks from personal experience.

“I can understand, as an international student, how confused [new students are],” Bekele said, “I have a grasp on what goes on at this campus right now, but if you ask[ed] me spring of 2021, I would have [had] no idea.”

Bekele said there are numerous ways campus resources can help students attain their true potential.

“Using the resources on campus can benefit you profoundly,” Bekele said, “Understanding what goes on in CORE can change your career trajectory. Understanding how to utilize public safety and understanding what their office does can help you save lives and be careful on your own.

SGA has high hopes for SGA Speaks and its positive impact on new Vikings, Nandelenga said.

“Not to say that it has all the answers, but I hope that it gives them the hope that there could be something out there and to be their own advocate,” Nandelenga said.

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