SGA Senators and the Student Body

Vinicio Hernandez, News Editor

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On Oct. 1st and 2nd, the Student Government Association (SGA) held elections for senators to represent each of the university’s colleges. Those elections having passed, twelve new senators were elected, with three up for appointment. SGA President Christine Bourgeois ([email protected]), concerned about the student response to its government association, spoke about the role of the senators in the SGA: their purpose and how they have accomplished it, what determines a good senator and the responsiveness of the student body to its senators. 

 

Beyond representing a college of the university, a senator’s role is to enact change around campus to improve student life or the integrity of campus life in general. The new Constitution states the purpose of the SGA Senate as follows: “The SGA Senate … shall serve as the legislative body, in order to create an all-encompassing, proactive SGA that will serve the Student Body at large” (Art. III, §2.1). Since Bourgeois’ appointment, SGA senators have made motions for bike racks to be built between the Mathematics and Liberal Arts buildings, because students “were locking them in unsafe places,” Bourgeois expressed. In addition, senators in the College of Business have raised $600 for the University Center food pantry to broaden student awareness and access to the pantry. A senator in the College of Liberal Arts held an open forum for the college. Though attendance was low, it was the first of its kind. “We’re hoping for more [panels] from other colleges with all senators,” Bourgeois said. Finally, the SGA senators assisted in funding the Progressive Black Student Union’s Trunk-or-Treat on the evening of Oct. 28th. The Trunk-or-Treat event reached out to the local community to safely guide children through Halloween’s annual traditions. “It was for fun and for community,” Bourgeois summarized.

 

Good senators, Bourgeois explained, understand they do not merely represent their own college, but also the university. Senators are “not just there for their own gain,” but as public servants to the university and as a member of a team, they must be expected to step up or down for their fellow senators as needed. As the senatorial position has “vague guidelines” as to what constitutes a senator, the senators themselves determine what goes into the position. It is a title both defined and crafted by the senator elected.

 

How actively involved is the student body towards its government? As a general rule, there is a ten percent turn-out rate for voting in collegiate elections. “This is average for our SGA,” Bourgeois explains, “and higher than most SGAs.” The Senate had in fact doubled in size this year, and currently sits over the halfway mark of its maximum seat capacity. In light of national politics, student interest in becoming active with its local college government has increased. “Students definitely care,” Bourgeois continued. “It’s more a question of ‘who knows’.”

 

What should students understand, in that case, about their SGA? “Just as in US politics and elections,” Bourgeois says, “it’s so important to vote. The student body has to vote. Whoever is in that position is representing you.” The Senate decides where money towards which student organizations, events, etc. is allocated. “If no students are involved, or in communication with senators, then they have to call it themselves. So vote — communicate.”

 

How could students remain in contact with their senators and the SGA? UNO’s website has recently undergone complete reconstruction, and this too holds for the SGA portion of the site (https://www.uno.edu/student-government). Information on all senators — their name and the college they represent — is located on that page and is kept up-to-date. There too students can propose bills, read the new Constitution in full and contact anyone in the SGA. “The best way to contact [us] is by email, or through the SGA office.” Find UNO’s SGA in 236A of the University Center, and the President’s office in 236C. 

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