SGA welcomes new leadershipBy William Evans | 04/03/2012 11:05pm
Tuesday afternoon, the balcony overlooking the manicured lawn of the Gorgas House served as the platform of inauguration for the 2012-2013 Student Government Association. SGA Chief Justice Joe Hart administered the oath of office to members of the executive council, the judicial board and the senate.
Stephen Swinson, this academic year’s SGA president, said he could leave office knowing that his administration has improved campus life.
“This year, we worked to rebuild storm-stricken areas of Tuscaloosa, implemented an evening transit system … from campus to downtown, reformed the student organization seating process in order to increase transparency, assisted with the academic advising tool to make the student registration process easier and created an incentive-based program to increase student attendance at campus events,” he said.
The last to be sworn in, SGA President Matt Calderone said in his inaugural address that his administration has set forth three standards to create a campus culture of cohesion and inclusion, which will better represent the student body’s diversity.
“First, we seek to enhance our communication with the student body by providing more opportunities for student involvement,” he said. “Second, we strive to instill a greater sense of civic duty in all students. Participation of the public is vital to the success of every community, and by instilling this greater appreciation for civic engagement, we can bring our community to new heights. Thirdly, we aim to leave behind not only a legacy, but a new beginning for the next 100 years by creating sustainable initiatives and a culture that leaves a lasting vision for future administrations.”
Calderone is the 100th president to lead the SGA, which was founded in 1914 by future United States Senator J. Lister Hill, the first SGA president. Calderone said the student body has reached a turning point.
“The climate of this great University indicates that we are ready for an improvement,” he said. “We are ready for a change.”
That change is defined in part by the SGA’s return to its foundation as a representative body for all students.
“We must get back to our roots and rediscover the core of our existence,” he said. “We are an organization with a firm foundation. That foundation is service to our fellow man.
“This administration will be driven by the foundation of service in all that we do. Guided by service and the principles of integrity and hard work, we will seek to create a true sense of community here at the Capstone.”
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, City Clerk Tracy Croom and city councilmen attended the SGA inauguration. Maddox said the City has a tradition of collaborating with the SGA on projects to benefit the Tuscaloosa community.
“I know the importance that the SGA is to the City because over the past six years that I have been the Mayor, I have enjoyed a great relationship with the SGA by working on common issues and trying to make life better for all of our citizens,” he said.
“This year, we have a real personal connection to Matt because of his internship at City Hall and his extraordinary work during the tornado,” he added. “I’m sure he’s going to do a great job for his constituents.”
Regan Williams, an elected senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, said he feels excited.
“I really look forward to making a difference on campus,” he said. “I really want to work on making sure the common student is protected. The way I want to do that is by protecting student organizations.”
Williams said he wants to improve the allocation of funding from the Financial Affairs Committee to student organizations.
“We give them a good bit now, but I feel like that can be increased,” he said. “We need to find a way to increase it or make it easier for them to get the money that they need.”
David Wilson, the past academic year’s SGA vice president for Student Affairs who competed against Calderone for SGA president, said he sees a bright future unfolding for the University.
“I just think they have a really good team and they have a lot of students who will be really supportive and good things are going to happen,” he said.
Wilson said he will not take on an official title for next year’s SGA but will continue working with Calderone’s administration if called upon to help.