Semester in Review: SGA concludes a 'successful' year
Central Michigan University Student Government Association held its final meeting on April 1 and an inaugural celebration on April 8, concluding what SGA President Jake Hendricks described as “one of SGA’s most successful years in recent history."
During the Spring 2019 semester, SGA has hosted numerous events and brought in speakers to present during SGA meetings.
Notable speakers included:
- Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Joseph, who called for students’ involvement in local government
- CMU Police Department Lt. Cameron Wassman, who wanted to create “open communication” between students and the police department
- Maureen Eke, CMU English language and literature faculty and chair of the Isabella County Human Rights Committee, who informed students on human rights and the HRC
- Richard Rothaus, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, who updated SGA members on the provost search
Civic engagement and participation is a goal for SGA and a personal priority for Hendricks, so he said bringing in various speakers to SGA was an extension of this objective.
“Civic engagement is critical to student voices being heard on campus,” Hendricks said. “(By) bringing in Mayor Joseph, we have been able to connect students with their local representation. As voting members of the local community, students have the power to make real change with their votes.”
Notable legislation and projects
Last fall, SGA Vice President Lyndi Rose started the menstrual hygiene initiative, which supplied free tampons in four campus bathrooms. After a tampon dispenser was stolen from the Charles V. Park Library, the number was reduced to three bathrooms, leaving extra tampons to be used in the future.
The trial-run allowed Rose to collect data and figure out how many tampons need to be supplied in bathrooms on a weekly basis.
Rose is currently searching for a new tampon supplier and organizing plans for the initiative for the next academic year. She would like to expand the initiative to pads and additionally supply the gender-neutral bathroom in the Bovee University Center.
Eventually, Rose hopes to have free tampons and pads in all on-campus bathrooms. She estimates the annual cost to do so would be around $12,000, but wants administration to consider this in the budget, whether through auxiliary services or with the campus programming fund.
“That’s pennies to a university,” Rose said. “They have to budget accordingly, and it’s wherever they want to invest. I think this is something that you need to invest in for your students, so it’s not something I’m going (to drop).”
Commencement ceremony ticket legislation, authored by Senate Leader Caroline Murray, passed in SGA this semester. The legislation called for a regulated ticket pool system that would allow unused tickets to be redistributed, in an effort to discourage students from selling tickets for inflated prices.
“I got to meet with the head of Ticket Central and one of the administrators in charge of commencement,” Murray said. “My role in Student Government is to alert them that there is a problem. They were very receptive to what I had to say and realized how bad (the situation) is.”
From her meeting, Murray said she realized the issue is more complicated than she anticipated, but she was able to discuss how commencement was done in the past and viable possibilities. One solution that was considered involves more commencement ceremonies, possibly separated by majors.
“You’re more likely to have students come in and have more of their families, but it is very much a logistical situation,” Murray said. “McGuirk (Arena) can only seat so many, and not only McGuirk, but the parking situation (presents) a hassle and challenge.”
Murray said she was happy to see administration taking the situation seriously, but understands the limitations in making commencement more accessible. For now, Murray expects Hendricks to follow up with administration and Ticket Central in the upcoming academic year.
SGA Diversity Committee, in collaboration with Program Board, hosted “Cinema for Social Change." The series was organized in the fall semester, but “Boy Erased” and “On the Basis of Sex” were featured in the spring to promote conversation on important subjects.
“Some of these movies have scenes that may be challenging to understand in the gravity that they may hold,” said SGA Diversity Committee Chair Brett Houle. “Primarily, the dialogues have served as a way for attendees to debrief and say what they are thinking in a safe, open forum.
Houle and Program Board Film Director Lee Ringlever considered the series to be a success, with high attendance and audience participation. Although they are stepping down from their respective positions for the next academic year, Houle and Ringlever encourage their successors to continue the series.
The “Stamp Out Aggression” campaign was also another SGA initiative, spearheaded by SGA Senate Leader Caroline Murray and Senator Hannah Benemann, in partnership with Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates. Stamp Out Aggression involved a social media campaign, workshops and tabling to combat sexual aggression and share resources on campus.
Wrapping up the year
Although SGA is out of session until the fall, Hendricks, Rose and other SGA members are already planning and organizing projects for the next year. These include expanding current projects and meeting campaign promises, as well as creating entirely new initiatives.
“Seeing all that SGA can accomplish on campus works to motivate me through my work,” Hendricks said. “It’s incredible how much change and positive initiatives a passionate group can bring forward.”