The Student Government Association (SGA) is an on-campus legislative liaison between students and university administration, but many students aren’t aware of the organization's role or even who their representatives are.
“Sometimes students don't take advantage of the opportunities to meet the candidates, Dean of Students Margarita Perez, the faculty advisor for SGA, said. “I think in some ways there's personal responsibility... making sure as a voter, I have a personal responsibility to make sure I know what I'm voting for (and) who I'm voting for.”
According to Perez, SGA is a mechanism for students to make their voice heard in regards to university decisions.
“The SGA is really the voice of students,” Dean of Students Margarita Perez, the faculty advisor for SGA, said. “And so, their job is to advocate for students in ways that provide for a better academic experience, a better engagement experience and an overall better college experience.”
Some of the programs that have been supported and/or sponsored by the SGA include Campus Cupboard and the Red Dot Discount Program, an agreement between businesses and the university.
“SGA provides a lot of services and students aren't always aware of them,” Bethany Sistrunk, the Vice President of SGA said. “So it's always a goal of mine to spread the word about those services that are available and make sure that students are taking advantage of everything that's offered to them.”
SGA is set up to run like a mini-government for the university in that it has elected officials that follow a constitution, vote on bylaws and listen to students’ concerns.
Unlike the larger governments of the state and the country, however, in SGA there is significantly less discourse. Sistrunk said she doesn’t believe this is an issue.
“A lot of times people do just vote yes because we have that money there and we want to give it to students as much as we possibly can,” Sistrunk said. “So usually there's not much debate when it comes to that because we want to fund those students to be able to go do those things. There's very rarely legislation that's controversial.”
SGA has also provided students with resources and encouragement to vote in the current election and has proposed that students are allowed an excused absence on election day.
“I know there's a lot of student organizations who are encouraging students to vote right now, but I'm hoping that we can still make that impact and play a part, and encouraging students to go out and vote and take that time to vote, even if we don't have the day off from school,” Sistrunk said.
“If they have to miss class to go vote but they say their excuse, ‘I was going to vote,’ they would be excused,” she said. “So, it wouldn't just be counted as absent by their professor. We've been trying to do that for students so they feel like they can go vote and they can take the time to do that.”