After the fall semester, the Student Government Association is preparing for changes in administration and looking to build upon some of its existing initiatives and goals, SGA Communications Director Noah Hutchinson said.
“There’s definitely been a lot of talk about SGA across campus this past year and we are beyond excited about that,” Hutchinson said. “This semester, we’re really just continuing to follow through on campaign promises of this administration and so we’re definitely geared to keep the pressure. We’re just building onto what we’ve already been able to do.”
Some of the initiatives SGA is looking to build upon include increasing the minimum wage for on-campus jobs and the association’s demands concerning diversity and racial awareness after the resignation of Assistant General Counsel Caitlin Sewell.
“After being able to organize the sit-in at the Board of Regents meeting, we have their attention,” Hutchinson said. “We have another Board of Regents meeting the second week of February where we’ll be able to talk about our plans to potentially increase the minimum wage across the UNT System.”
SGA is also set to get a new vice president this semester. Former Vice President Hillary Shah resigned on Dec. 5, resulting in the nomination of Deana Ayers, who previously served as the Chief of Staff, Governmental Affairs Director and Chair of the City and States Relations Committee.
“All of our staff instantly knew that she was the right person to fill this position, and ultimately, I think the senate and students will see the same thing,” Hutchinson said. “She’s just a really awesome, servant-minded person, so she’s really just the point person.”
While Ayers will not officially be vice president until she is approved by the senate at their first meeting on Jan. 22, she already has goals in mind.
“One of my really big goals is to get more people to understand what they can do through SGA,” Ayers said. “Something I’ve always been really passionate about — especially when I was a senator — is getting constituents, just like regular students who aren’t involved in SGA, to help write legislation to tell the representatives what they care about. I’m going to be really pushing for senators to talk to people in their classes and talk to people when they table and hear what they want to fix on campus and work with them to put forward legislation. SGA is supposed to be representative of the student body so I really want us to fully embrace that.”
The senate currently has 14 open seats, listed below. The senate election schedule will not be set until the senate meeting on Feb. 5, but it will consist of a 10-day campaign that will start around the first week of April.
- (4) G. Brint Ryan College of Business
- (2) College of Education
- (1) College of Health and Public Service
- (1) College of Engineering
- (1) College of Information
- (1) College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
- (1) College of Visual Arts and Design
- (1) College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism
- (1) New College
- (1) Frisco
“Now that we know students have an outlet to want to be engaged with our campus, I’m hoping we are able to recruit people into SGA,” Hutchinson said. “We’re ready to welcome in fresh faces and some new students who are really excited.”
Computer science sophomore Samuel Holsomback said he has concerns with some of the association’s goals going into spring semester, specifically its demands for increased attention to diversity and racial awareness from the fall semester.
“I want SGA to be more focused on making college more cost-effective,” Holsomback said. “A lot of the changes they’re pushing have the potential to push our tuition up. I feel like they have their heart in the right place, but the actions would cost the student body, not the university.”
Spencer Daniel, a political science and history sophomore, said he has been pleased with SGA’s recent actions and hopes to see them continue.
“I’m pretty proud of SGA’s recent actions promoting an inclusive campus and partnering with student organizations to create events and host protests to protect UNT’s inclusivity,” Daniel said. “I would just like SGA to stay active in promoting a lively and safe campus for all while remaining as bipartisan as possible to best represent all students.”
Despite whether students are in favor of or against SGA’s actions, Hutchinson said he urges all students to voice their opinions.
“Students are engaged whether they agree or disagree with us,” Hutchinson said. “If you agree with us, come join us. If you disagree with us, please come join us. We want to let students know that this office really is a home for everyone. We want to hear your concerns whether it’s a campus, about the administration or even if it’s about us. Ultimately, we represent the student body and if we can do that better we want to know how.”
Featured Image: SGA members meet to discuss topics on the agenda, including any guest speakers and exec reports. Image by Ricardo Vazquez