Morrison wants SGA to support individuals, not just organizations if electedBy Arielle Lipan | 02/26/2016 1:22pm
Q: What’s a quick rundown of your life story?
A: Well, I am a junior. I moved here from Birmingham, Alabama, and I’m the oldest of four. My little sister is a freshman here, so I loved the tide enough to convince her to come here as well. I have been involved in various different things on campus, really enjoyed that, from Forza financial, which is a nonprofit that writes small loans to struggling entrepreneurs in Alabama, to international students. I really love abroad and travel. I spent last summer in China for two months learning Mandarin and working with college students over there and have been involved in SGA since my freshman year here. I was on FYC, and then I was a senator, and now I currently serve as SGA Treasurer on Elliot Spiller’s cabinet and, through that, have worked to really expand opportunities for students by increasing FAC funding by $70,000 and putting on a color run and more engaging fundraising events.
Q: Why do you want to run for this office?
A: I think that the office of the president is a very important office on campus because it should be a very unifying office and a very approachable office. I feel like in the past, sometimes SGA kind of misses its mark in that we’re really great at planning initiatives for students and inviting people to them, but we’re less great about getting excited about what students on campus are doing and partnering with them. So, I see a lot of potential in the organization that we’re not really capitalizing on right now, but we have started to, and I really want to continue to grow the organization. I feel like the president needs to be someone who is able to work with all parties and all people, and students feel very comfortable approaching with their ideas, and the president’s able to get behind those ideas and make them happen.
Q: So what makes you the best choice for that?
A: I think first and foremost, I had the opportunity to be backed by both parties on campus and turned them both down, because I want to run for students and I feel like this campus needs a leader that is dedicated to running for students making sure all students voices are heard and represented. Also, I’ve worked with a diverse range of people on campus a diverse range of backgrounds, a diverse range of beliefs, and have been able to successfully work with all of those people, and really push ideas forward and get them done. Additionally in contrast to the other people running, I’ve served on exec, so I have that exec experience. I know how exec works and how to actually plan an initiative and see it through, as well as how to get behind students’ ideas and make them happen. I also have tangible things that I’ve accomplished. Things have been overlooked in the past. For example, FAC funding ran out of funding for seven years and every year SGA asked the administration for more money and the administration every year turned it down, and so rather than just immediately asking for more money I did a lot of research and asked - emailed every president of every student organization and asked how FAC funding was meeting their needs and how it was falling short, and rewrote the code of laws to reflect that and rewrote the spending allocations to reflect that and then calculated percentages and was then able to present a researched report to the administration so they knew exactly how much more money we needed and it what areas and then they granted it to us. So, I think I’m willing to not just get to the right answers, but ask the right questions and sit down and the hard work that other people aren’t willing to do. Not just raise popular social issues and put my name on it, but really see what’s missing and see what students need and listen to that and figure out a way to make it happen with the resources available.
Q: So what’s your biggest goal for the position?
A: I would say I have several goals that are all incorporated into my platform. I really want SGA to become more open and a lot more able to be accessed by students, and I’ve continued to say is to empower students like get behind their needs. Ideas I have to do that is a student empowerment grant which would bring students- students would apply, whether it’s individual students or a group of students or an organization, they would apply to this grant, and SGA would award it to a winning applicant each year, and SGA throws all of its resources behind a student’s idea or a student’s event and makes them happen. Politics, I think, holds itself back sometimes on this campus just because of how polarizing it can be, and I want to start to bring people together who normally would not talk to each other and give them both a seat at the table and have us work towards common ground because that’s what we’re called to do as leaders. That’s what leadership is. And I feel that’s something that would help change the dynamic of the conversation on this campus from an us versus them mentality to what’s best for students and how we’re going to go about that. My biggest tangible goal is a capstone memorial. It’s something I’ve been working with the administration on for a while and it’s for students who have passed away while on campus and just having a tangible place where their friends and family can go and lay flowers in their memory and just something to honor the lives of the students who passed away. We had six students pass away last semester and it’s something that right now there’s just not a great lasting memorial for those students. So, I mean, my platform is HOME. It stands for Health, Opportunity, Memory and Empowerment, and I have ideas and tenants under each of those things, but at the end of the day I want to get behind students and work with students to make this campus feel more like a HOME.
Q: What’s the first thing you would do if you got elected?
A: If I won the first thing I would do is celebrate with my team and all of the people because I literally wouldn’t be here without all of the people who have come together to work on this campaign. And that’s so cool because a lot these people didn’t know each other before. They come from all walks of campus, all walks of life, and for them to come together and work on something is really cool and so I’d for sure celebrate with them. As far as action goes, the first action a president is required to do is appointments. So I really want to restructure appointments and make them a lot more open to students where you don’t have to be Caroline Morrison’s best friend to get the appointment. I want it to be application based to where a sophomore from Kentucky who has never met me has just a good of a shot of getting it as someone who has known me since my freshman year because I want it to be qualification wise, and I’m serious about opening up SGA to other students.
Q: Why should indifferent students care about this election?
A: I think there are a lot reasons students who are indifferent should care. I think they have a good reason to be indifferent because for so long the question what does SGA actually do, didn’t have an answer, but it’s time for that to change, and the only way that changes is if we elect leaders who care about students who feel like they’ve been overlooked. Because I don’t think students are indifferent strictly because they don’t care, I think they’re indifferent because they feel like they’re not being served, and in order to change that we have to have leaders in there who are willing to serve all students and are attentive to all students’ needs. So that’s why I think they should care, because there’s a place on this campus for every student, and SGA should serve as a facilitator to make sure every student finds that place.
Q: How do you see the campus changing and/or staying the same by the end of your possible term?
A: I have several hopes for how it will change and how it will stay the same. There are some really great things about Alabama that should never change: football. Nick Saban should keep winning, but I do hope that at the end of my term, when I walk away there’s a tangible impact that has been made and there’s a purpose in it and I hope that that purpose is shifting from petty party politics to something that is a lot bigger and a lot more meaningful and that is students and getting behind veterans getting priority registration that is a huge need that is overlooked and getting behind and tackling serious issues like mental health. That is something that has personally affected my family. I had a cousin who committed suicide on Mother’s Day a few years ago, and this university- students should feel comfortable reaching out to the resources available at the University and the University should have the top resources to fight mental health. Sexual assault. We’ve started a lot of campaigns promoting awareness and I want to continue that but shift it to more education and action driven as well. Where students know the tough issues that we’re facing, and we don’t lose the seriousness or the gravity of these issues to where we reach this healthy dynamic of students being comfortable talking about it when they need help, and they don’t feel ashamed or uneducated on where to go. And so there’s several tangible things that I hope to enhance. But at the end of the day I would hope my administration would not be about a line on a résumé or a great list of initiatives and events that we came up with. Students were able to call Alabama more of a home or feel like they have a better place on this campus because SGA took a specific interest in individuals and not just an organization.
I went skydiving two weeks ago. I’ve always had this thing where when I get stressed out I climb onto high places to think. I don’t what it is, I guess looking at something from a different perspective. I used to always sit on my roof in high school, and putting together a campaign can be kind of stressful, so I was sitting in one of my mentor’s office, verbally processing everything, and she was like is there anything I can do to help? And I was like, I just need to jump out of a plane. And so I went skydiving, and I loved it. I’m an adrenaline junkie, so very much enjoyed that experience. It was really fun. It’s kinda cool, cause when you’re falling through the sky and you fall through cloud you get really wet, but you’re falling so fast you dry pretty instantly, so it’s a pretty crazy experience. But yeah. I went skydiving two weeks ago to prepare for this campaign. Roll tide, and let’s go.