By Guest Columnist Brenna Hill

 

First of all, thank you to Tyler Boelts for his April 8 Trinitonian column headlined “Dear SGA, Do Something” and for initiating a dialogue that will, hopefully, spark conversation and thoughtful change on the Trinity campus.

Thank you, Tyler, for your commentary and your opinion that SGA needs to step up its game, in

reaction to an SGA newsletter column asking for student opinion on whether SGA members should receive compensation. For transparency and to provide students a chance to weigh in on this issue, SGA notified students of the proposal through our newsletter. If approved, the proposal would not impact many current SGA members, including myself. This was not a self-serving motivation. I would not — nor would many current SGA members — benefit as we will rotate out of office before this initiative (if approved) takes effect.

Paying SGA members would encourage more students to get involved in student government and to run for office in future semesters. Paying SGA members would help attract strong, well-deserving, qualified candidates and would improve SGA’s accountability.

SGA is working diligently with administration to make campus improvements, including food quality and selection. Many students have voiced concerns and preferences for change, and many of those improvements have now been implemented.  Mabee is improving its food quality and is now offering more healthy, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Freshii is now open on campus with smoothies and healthy choice options. On April 25, SGA will hold a meeting open to all students on dining with Aramark Chef Miguel and other guests.  

SGA is also working with B-Cycle executives to determine the feasibility of having a B-Cycle station on campus. While this initiative is not happening as quickly as many might like, the negotiations continue. SGA conducted a survey of the student body and received 448 responses, and the final decision is now in the hands of B-Cycle executives and city officials.

SGA is also facilitating discussions around campus climate issues related to sexual assault. On April 20, SGA, in partnership with the Trinity Progressives, the Refourmers, Greek Council and the SAAC, will host a student-led conversation about sexual assault and drinking culture on our campus.

SGA has implemented a liaison program where senators are paired with members of the administration to develop relationships and create an atmosphere of collaboration to address various campus issues.

SGA has initiated numerous changes to make SGA more efficient, more effective and more accountable.

– All senators are required to sign a commitment contract, agreeing to attend all meetings, dress in a professional manner and participate in SGA initiatives, activities and events.

– SGA members are required to attend a training retreat prior to the start of each semester.

– SGA members are required to serve on SGA ad-hoc committees as well as university committees.

– SGA has created additional cabinet positions, such as Legislative Relations, providing more students with opportunities to be involved and to connect SGA to local and state legislators to advocate for higher education policy.

– SGA is partnering with campus organizations to co-sponsor events and help students better connect with Senators. SGA is committed to establishing and strengthening relationships and cultivating better communication with students.

– SGA has created marketing materials, including “Meet your Senators” posters in all dorms to make SGA members more accessible and responsive to constituents.

– SGA has added a newsletter, Coates whiteboard, Facebook page, Instagram page and an online Student Issue Report form to improve campus communication with students, staff and administration.

In SGA, we are making changes to be more effective, efficient, productive, responsive and accountable. But it will take more than a few well-meaning senators to address issues and “fix” what is broken, to call attention to concerns and to facilitate change.  We can not accomplish all of Trinity’s goals on our own. We need your help.

Thank you, Tyler, for exercising your campus civic duty by voting. Thank you for caring enough about our school to write your recent column. Instead of finding fault with what we are not doing, I respectfully ask that you get involved, see what we are accomplishing and help us make Trinity better. Attend an SGA meeting. Serve on a committee. Write a comment on the Coates whiteboard. Respond to the e-mail about SGA stipends with a resounding “Oh hell no” if that’s the way you feel. We welcome you — and all students — to let us know what’s wrong or where we need to improve. Ask questions. Challenge us.

I strongly encourage all Trinity students to get involved. Fill out the surveys. Take the polls. Write letters to the Trinitonian about things that need to change, ways we can improve our campus community. Tell us what you think. Talk to each other. Listen to your roommate, your classmates, your peers. Let’s stop blaming and start talking, stop complaining and do something.

We are striving to make SGA a stronger, more effective — and more accountable — student organization, representative of the amazing student body we serve. We already know the things we do right at Trinity. We claim bragging rights as one of the top colleges in the country and many of us are beyond proud of our university and are honored to be Trinity Tigers. Many of us have chosen to get involved in SGA to give back to a university that has given us so much. Obviously, I did not run for SGA for the paycheck. There isn’t one.

I ran for office because I love my university. I am humbled and proud to serve as SGA president and welcome student comments, suggestions and criticism. By working together, we can celebrate Trinity University’s many victories and accomplishments, make improvements to our campus and admit when we need to make some changes.

“Dear SGA, Do something.”

We are, Tyler. Challenge accepted.