SGA strives to bridge gap between students and city, open communication

After a long summer dedicating two days a week to communicating the needs of Central Michigan University students to administrators, Student Government Association President Ian Elliott wants to continue that discussion.

He hopes to open a channel of communication between students, city officials, and CMU administration through regular meetings and compiling documentation of student grievances.

By doing this, Elliott said he hopes to improve transparency between the three bodies so they can work together to provide the best opportunities for students.

SGA is a body of students meant to connect the gap between students and university officials. It has a house made up of representatives from student organizations and a senate consisting of elected students who represent different departments and academic groups on campus. If students want to see any sort of change at CMU, SGA can draft a bill and put it before the administration for approval.

SGA’s first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19 in the Bovee University Center Auditorium. All students are welcome to attend.

Central Michigan Life sat down with Elliott to ask him about what he wants to accomplish this year.

CM LIFE: What can students expect from SGA this year?

ELLIOTT: My biggest excitement is blowing open the channel of communication in the student body. (SGA Vice President) Jazmine (Biernat) and my internal focus in changing SGA is as equally a part of changing the culture within as it is changing the way students perceive us. We don’t want to be any sort of an unknown organization on campus. We want students to be aware of the resources we provide and the leverage we have in fostering change.

When sworn in, you promised to send administration a “student agenda” before summer vacation. What was in it? How did they respond?

The administration was appreciative of it. We have never had a formal document putting forward the remaining concerns on students’ mind from the previous year. I presented it to President (George) Ross and invited him to share it around.

The issues (included) a charity event we wanted to push forward, student voting and the establishment of a (Gender Equity Center). Administrative communication and transparency was another one President Ross and I had some productive conversations about.

When sworn in, you said you plan to send the administration a report on student-city relations by Halloween. How is that coming?

Our Student-City Liaison has ongoing conversations with individuals at the University of Michigan and Michigan State. (They) are in the process of opening up a channel of communication with Western Michigan University as well. It is a project that we have delegated, and come the beginning of October, Jazmine and I are going to step in again and provide our support. Our busy and eventful Welcome Weekend gave us the ability to jump-start some of those conversations.

What is your goal for membership this year?

Hopefully we can top 200. We really won’t know until day one. We encourage every RSO on campus to send a representative to the house. This is their avenue to channel their voice on campus through our organization (and gain) a variety of resources for the organizations.

You said you would like to redesign how SGA meetings are structured. Are there things you disagree with?

To say there is something right or wrong is off-base. Jazmine and I are looking forward (to the first meeting) and going to allow the general assembly to give us a verbal vote.

If we can prune a few of the portions of SGA that maybe are antiquated, or maybe not something students are passionate about, we can replace certain processes with new ones students would engage with. We are really asking questions as opposed to having a new structure in mind. We want (member input).

What can new members expect from SGA’s first meeting?

It will be just the general assembly. Everyone will come together for a welcoming and obviously the senate elections will have to take place. Our treasurer is going to try to put forward and pass our budget for the year at that meeting. We will also (be answering) questions about the culture of SGA.