Is SGA a Voice for the Student Body?
The Student Government Association (SGA) of The University of South Carolina Upstate (Upstate) seems to be well hidden while only coming out once a year when new candidates are chosen for election. Student Government’s goal parallels with how Megan Wong, a senior psychology major, describes her view on the matter: “SGA serves as a great liaison between the students’ and faculty’s opinions for the betterment of the University.” Wong is part of a group of students who believe the executive office as having achieved active liaison between administration and students. When asked about the purpose of SGA, Bradley Biera, an Upstate freshman whose major is computer information systems, mirrored the thoughts of many Upstate students, who stated “I have no knowledge of their affiliation or association to Upstate.”
SGA is an organization that represents the students’ voice among faculty and staff at the University. The elected positions are as follows; the four main officer positions—President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer—and then there are the senators. Alexandra Dukes, a sophomore at Upstate majoring in criminal justice and appointed 2014-2015 president, described the SGA Senate as being a “liaison between a specific on-campus organization or group, and SGA so that the officers would know any concerns those organizations or groups might have through one individual.” One student is elected as a Senator for an organization or group on campus who reports those concerns to the executive staff. The one non-elected officer would be the Chief of Staff who is appointed by the President in office of SGA. Andrew (Drew) White, the current Chief of Staff, explains how his position basically “keeps everything running smoothly within the executive staff…to be the head of all committees and elections.” He is graduating this semester and a new Chief of Staff will be appointed by Duke for the 2014-2015 year.
In these last couple weeks SGA made themselves known through the election process. The campaigns for this year were promoted through Upstate’s email; however, not many students were aware of the elections until it was too late register as a candidate or realize how to vote for a preferred elective. Some students have expressed that elections should have been better promoted so students would have known sooner.
The incoming SGA president had such an optimistic twinkle in her eye as she sat down to talk about her ideas. Many students agree with Bethany Lancaster’s, an Upstate senior Interdisciplinary Studies major, opinion on the matter: “if change is what Student Government is after than they need to make the effort.” Dukes was not weary about discussing SGA’s effort, or seemingly lack thereof, and explains that “a lot of the changes made, are made behind the scenes, and there are baby steps being made to improve things.” She does feel as if the organization should be student based and wants very much to “put the student back in Student Government.” She understands there is “a problem with communication between organizations and faculty.” She has implemented a president’s council that will be a small step in helping fix the communication problem. The council will include three presidents, Impact, CAB, SGA, and the two editors from The Carolinian and Writer’s Inc. White describes Duke as “being someone who wants to have all organizations works together instead of independent of each other.”
Student Government is a fundamental part of Upstate and has been hidden for long enough. Hopefully, now that this organization has an open door policy, it will better represent the student body, which is just what the students have been wanting in their Student Government. If you believe that important changes can be made to SGA and you would like to see an alteration, Dukes encourages the student body to contact the SGA office with any concerns by calling 864-503-5134 or visiting their office in Student Life located in the Campus Life Center.