SGA Presidential Candidate Discusses What He Could Have Done for UNO

Wonders Why Ellen DeGeneres Never Proudly Repped Our University

SGA Presidential Candidate Discusses What He Could Have Done for UNO

Marvin K. Bryant, Contributing Writer

Note: In the ethics of fairness, current SGA President Christine Bourgeois was reached out to for comment about the piece below and responded, “I’m beyond thankful for everyone that took part is this year’s elections. The transition to a virtual platform was unprecedented but the creativity and collaboration shown from both Marvin and Julianne were admirable and appreciated. I’m sure virtually campaigning alone was not ideal, but I’m glad both candidates were able to reach as many students as they did. The senate is always open for anyone to join, and it’s such an important role any student can be a part of. I hope to continue to see the senate grow and students continue to advocate for every privateer at our university.”

 

Editorial Note: This is an op-ed piece and does not reflect the opinions of the Driftwood staff. Driftwood is happy to report on all sides of this issue and congratulates all of SGA candidates. 

 

The University of New Orleans began its journey in 1958 with a population of 1,460 and it is now the year 2020 with a population of 7,790. In 1983, the population grew to 16,000 but as of 2020 more than half-diminished. Think about that for a moment, 62 years and only 7,790. Hurricane Katrina did affect the population but Hurricane Katrina was 15 years ago not 1 year ago.

Throughout this time the University of New Orleans hasn’t had its apex nor its metamorphosis, in terms of influence and magnitude. I constantly see the University of New Orleans in the next 10 years having a population of over 45,000. My goal for this institution is to take it far beyond any person’s dream of dreams. I ran on the platform of students voting for the change they deserved and the reason I chose that platform because I’ve been around enough students to know they feel unwanted and careless.

They put in so much work and get so little out of it hence why so many students don’t care about this institution and that affects the population growth. I was planning on unfolding the Privateer Project. I was going to seek Dr. Nicklow’s approval to proceed and set the SGA and UNO student experience in motion for a grand metamorphosis that would lead to unbelievable exponential growth for the institution.  

The Privateer Project is an initiative that would have been a collaborative project between the University Administration and the Student Government Association. It would’ve begun with the reformation of the student government association.

During my tenure, my focus would have been building the foundation for the Privateer Project and adding to SGA expectations Kenady Hills established in her 2018 executive order: Reigniting the care and passion for student government, every executive board member attending student organization meetings across campus to expand access to the student government executive board, student organizations regularly going to local high schools hosting events as an advertisement, outreach for the University of New Orleans, and a closer proximity for any commuters. Also, I hoped to work with Chartwell’s to include more food options and possibly a legitimate restaurant on campus. I wanted to implement students ordering food from Dining Services from their phones and to negotiate a better deal with the bookstore so students can use their Privateers Bucks as a form of payment since it is their money, after all.

I hoped to reinstate UNO Social with paid moderators that report daily to the SGA, renovate the SGA office and Senate chamber to have an appearance of honorable prestige – one that does not look like a post office. I hoped to continue with the placement of LGBTQIA+ flags in the University Center, hosting campus-wide conferences to discuss the need and benefit of all bathrooms being gender-neutral multi-use bathrooms. I wanted to have professors notify their students about the conference since this impacts everyone at UNO. I wanted to form the LGBTQIA+ Safety Act with the help of other public institutions to form a united coalition. In addition, I would have encouraged PBSU, LASA and Unity to become official branches of SGA rather than just student organizations since their impact and influence extend far beyond a student organization, a greater Driftwood that is all formats including a YouTube web series that’ll collaborate with the Film department to produce.

Furthermore, after my tenure I would have worked closely with the upcoming SGA and University Administration, as an alumnus, to research toward a possible new major in the College of Engineering; Nanosystems Engineering, promoting the expansion of the Foreign Language Department to include more languages such as Arabic, Mandarin, and Hindustani. Other longterm goals included every classroom being equipped with an 8’ x 8’ interactive touch-screen board, a large virtual reality hub for education and gaming, A.I. Guidance system for incoming freshmen, A.I. tutor program, and establishing sister-student governments with international partnered universities to expand UNO student government outreach and action.  

I never understood why Ellen DeGeneres, one of UNO’s most distinguished alumni, never proudly repped the University. Or how she has done several commencement speeches at Tulane but not UNO. Why do so many people flee this University and treat it like a regrettable disease? I understand now more than ever. LSU’s motto is “Love It” while our’s is “Great City, Great University” but the culture we’ve cultivated of corruption, running away from the future, and the impossible reigning supreme are some of the key reasons why many flee this University and why our population is only 7,790.

Our graduation rate is 34% while LSU’s is 67.2%. My goals for the University of New Orleans, though audacious,  are possible. Why haven’t we learned that anything is possible? If you were to go back 100 years and show a human being an iPhone they would look on in horror and shock, believing that this isn’t possible but our history has proven that anything is possible. Imagine the University of New Orleans in 2030, a population of 45,000, top 5 institutions in the United States for academics, innovation, community outreach, and campus spirit, technologically refined, international interconnected web of influence where InnovateUNO and all major UNO events can be seen and experienced in several different countries across the world, Black, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQIA+ are more than 90% of the population.

However, it is the University’s decision, if they would like to finally reach its apex and be the epicenter for excellence or be trapped in the shadow of greater institutions. To those who feel this isn’t possible and this can’t be done, you’re apart of the problem. These goals will cost immense means but it starts with the student body, our voice, our yearning for change and growth. Is it easy to accomplish great things? Any rational person knows the answer is no but those same rational people, nevertheless, begin that journey to achieve those great things. So remember to all who are reading this, it’s not just “Great City, Great University” but anything is possible for a new tomorrow in New Orleans.