The Roth Administration is still improving student lifeBy Sean Ross | 02/09/2017 12:12am
CW / Kylie Cowden
In September, I wrote an article titled “The Roth Administration is Improving Student Life.” It was true then and time and time again has been exemplified by this year’s SGA. As we enter February and a new campus election cycle looms on the horizon, now is a great time to reflect on that September article and catalogue all the impactful things SGA has done so far this academic year.
Two of President Lillian Roth’s top campaign promises were accomplished quickly, as Uber successfully returned to Tuscaloosa and a Student Non-Academic Misconduct expungement program was rolled out for students. Under Executive Vice President Ben Leake’s innovative leadership, SGA unveiled Parking Partner, a tool to match students with the parking pass that fits with their unique situation best.
Former Vice President for Financial Affairs Jordan Forrest’s cabinet founded the Military Dependent Scholarship and awarded thousands of dollars in SGA Needs-Based Scholarship funds last semester. This cabinet hosted two informative Bama Budget events to teach students about financial literacy and raised $2,000 for SGA Book Scholarships through Pie for a Purpose. Financial Affairs wrapped up the semester by partnering with the Campus Veterans Association and Caring for Camo to put on Veterans Week; this included the Honor Our Heroes event with combat veterans that raised money for the Honor Flight Program and the very successful Salute to Service fundraiser at Bear Trap.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Emily Cerrina’s cabinet executed Academic Integrity Week in exemplary fashion and has continuously worked with fellow students and University administration to make open textbooks more prevalent on campus. Academic Affairs also garnered important student feedback about advising and registration through a survey that will be used to enhance these processes in the future. President Roth appointed Cam Smock as the first SGA officer in history who focuses on sustainability and environmental issues; this cabinet worked on a long list of impactful projects in the fall, including a Riverwalk Cleanup that collected over 800 pounds of trash.
The Programming Cabinet led by Director Paige Lindgren teamed up with campus partners for End the Stigma Week in October and hosted a litany of successful events focused on mental health. Vice President for External Affairs Braden Morell’s cabinet helped over 1,100 students register to vote and hosted United States Senator Richard Shelby on campus for Better Relations Day, which also featured the first service project in the event’s 68-year history. External Affairs additionally worked with the Red Cross to coordinate blood drives and oversaw lobbying efforts geared towards improving higher education funding throughout the semester.
SGA Director of Multicultural Affairs Shelby Norman and President Roth responded strongly to egregious incidents of hate and violence on campus by penning an open letter to UA administration and demanding action. This led to a joint effort between SGA and administration to form a new committee for diversity on campus, as well as the Champions Don’t Hate campaign focused on fostering a more respectful and welcoming campus community online and offline.
SGA did a lot in the fall alone; I could not come close to listing all of the things that our student government facilitated last semester in this piece. We can always do more, and this drive towards perpetual improvement motivated the Roth Administration to plan an even better spring semester. So with the reflection on the fall done now, let us look ahead to the amazing things yet to come.
There are four major weeks dedicated to specific programming this semester that SGA is spearheading: It’s On Us Week from Feb. 13-19, Substance Abuse Awareness Week from March 6-10, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Week from March 19-25, and Green Week from April 10-14. Additionally, SGA is working with the Division of Student Life on Capstone Creed Week from March 27-31.
Besides these weeks that are packed with events, there are some exciting stand-alone initiatives upcoming. On Feb. 23, SGA will travel with a group of over 200 dedicated students to Montgomery for Higher Education Day to help secure important funding for the University. In other funding-related news, the Academic Affairs Cabinet and Senator Ross D’Entremont are planning a grant-writing workshop to assist students with research grant applications. The Financial Affairs Cabinet, led by new Vice President Tyler Portanova, is also finalizing some great need-based scholarship fundraisers that will occur in late February and throughout March. And Vice President for Student Affairs Dalton Beasley is working on a long-term program to provide students with free ponchos year-round.
Leaders that create an atmosphere of community and commonality should be commended, and we are lucky to have one such leader as our SGA president.
Sean Ross is a senior majoring in political science. His column runs biweekly.