by PRIYA PATEL
This academic year, the Student Government Association (SGA) is making efforts to help the rest of the student body feel more connected to their elected officers.
“I hope to achieve reaching more students so that SGA can represent their interests better to the school,” said SGA Vice President and Senate President Chandler Carlson, a senior biochemistry and psychology major.
This is a change from past years where SGA mostly operated in the background and not many students knew about what they were doing.
“I believe that a lot of students don’t know what SGA does and that is something that we are hoping to change this year,” Carlson said. “One of the things that SGA does is voice student concerns. For instance, two years ago SGA got the school to give students election day off to vote. We then lobbied to the state Congress and, as a result, a law was passed that makes it a state holiday so that all college students can vote.”
Other SGA elected members agree with how important it is to connect to the student body.
“What you see this year as it relates to SGA prioritizing student connections comes from the deep understanding that, without students, our positions mean little to nothing,” said SGA President Brianna “Breezy” Reaves, a senior sociology major. “It is imperative that all student leaders, especially SGA, know, understand and connect with students and their experiences at UMW so as to properly advocate for them, amplify their voices and support them to the best of our ability.”
According to Carlson, this new effort to get students more involved with SGA is partially due to the effects that COVID had on the university as a whole.
“After the pandemic, every organization is rebuilding,” Carlson said. “We also thought that since UMW is rebranding itself, shouldn’t SGA?”
Reaves also cited the effects of COVID in SGA’s decision to do more outreach.
“It goes without saying that COVID-19 delayed much of our ability to connect, but there is absolutely no reason to continue that disconnection into this year,” Reaves said. “Students must be able to know, trust and relate to SGA, and as a result we hope to see SGA becoming a body where all students feel safe to do that.”
One of the ways SGA is trying to connect with more students is through a four-week series of tabling from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesdays in academic buildings.
“We also want to get students’ feedback, questions and concerns during this series,” said SGA Secretary Sophia Hobbs, a senior history major. “Each week we will table in an academic building so we can talk to all different students.”
With the conclusion of last week’s universal elections for new representatives for the Student Government Association, Class Council, Student Conduct Review Board, Honor Council and Finance Committee, the SGA representatives have started their tabling event series. The first tabling event was on Sept. 22 in the lobby of Combs Hall, and there are three more coming up.
“We will be in Farmer Hall Sept. 29, Monroe Hall on Oct. 6 and Jepson on Oct. 13,” Hobbs said.
The SGA officers encouraged students to attend the events and reach out to their SGA leaders.
“I encourage students to never hesitate to connect with me or other SGA leaders should they need anything, even if it is just a place to feel heard and be seen,” Reaves said. “UMW students deserve that in their student leaders, and my only hope is that we can be amazing leaders and friends in providing that level of safety through our organization which is called to prioritize students in the first place.”
Carlson also emphasized that students should reach out to their representatives.
“If a student has a concern, please reach out to us. We are here to represent you to our fullest ability and will do so happily,” Carlson said.