The Roth Administration is improving student lifeBy Sean Ross | 09/13/2016 12:22pm
Every February, campus is inundated with campaign slogans, platitudes, and promises as Student Government Association elections unfold. Yet, after the votes are tabulated and results are announced, most of campus seems to disconnect from SGA. It shouldn’t be this way. And it doesn’t have to be this way.
The SGA is here to serve the student body, as its mission of “Students Serving Students” states; this is our student government.
As someone who has been involved in SGA for four years now, I am comfortable in admitting that the disconnect between SGA and the individual student runs both ways. While the SGA has certainly not always done an adequate job of garnering student opinion and responding through more helpful student services, we as individuals must choose to care about what is happening on campus and get involved. Decisions are made by those who show up.
For those that have not been following SGA too closely since elections this past spring, I would like to offer a quick recap of the major things that have happened under the Roth Administration thus far and urge everyone to get connected with our student government as the year goes on. Because everything the SGA does is for your benefit.
Two of President Lillian Roth’s top campaign promises have already been accomplished, as Uber has successfully returned to Tuscaloosa and a SNAM expungement program has officially been put in place by the University. Under Executive Vice President Ben Leake’s innovative leadership, SGA unveiled Parking Partner, a tool to match students with the parking pass that matches their unique situation best. The newest First Year Council class will be finalized by this Tuesday and will offer more freshmen than ever before the opportunity to get involved in SGA.
Vice President for Financial Affairs Jordan Forrest’s cabinet founded the Military Dependent Scholarship and has already awarded $4,000 in SGA Needs Based Scholarship funds this semester. This Monday, the Financial Affairs Committee meets for the first time of the semester to disburse a portion of the $200,000+ it is annually charged with allocating to a myriad of student organizations.
Vice President of Student Affairs Dalton Beasley oversaw the best Student Organizational Seating process in recent memory and is planning a major summit for students from across campus to dialogue openly about intimate and important issues facing them.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Emily Cerrina’s cabinet executed Academic Integrity Week flawlessly last week and is working with fellow students and University administration to make open textbooks more prevalent on campus. President Roth appointed the first SGA officer in history that focuses on sustainability and environmental issues; this cabinet is working on a long list of projects, including a Riverwalk Cleanup coming up on Sept. 28.
The Roth Administration is also leading on vital issues like sexual assault and mental health, with the Programming Cabinet set to team-up with campus partners for End the Stigma Week starting Oct. 9. Furthermore, this SGA Executive Council is focused on planting trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in, exemplified perfectly by the call for a new and improved constitution that will greatly benefit students and administrations to come.
SGA is doing a lot. We always can do more, but it is this drive towards perpetual improvement that functions as a motivator for the hundreds of students involved in SGA and those to whom SGA involvement is appealing. Everything I’ve outlined in this article comes from my firsthand involvement with SGA.
This year, I have the pleasure of serving as President Roth’s Chief Advisor. And if there is anything I can underscore, it is translating the understanding that we, as SGA, remain steadfastly committed to positively impacting the lives of the students we are lucky enough to represent. Follow along with us on social media and visit our website at sga.ua.edu to stay connected and let us know how we can do better. Because we want to, and together, we will.
Sean Ross is a senior majoring in political science. His column runs biweekly.