FLAMES: SGI Must Represent the Student Body

FLAMES: SGI Must Represent the Student Body

This week, Students of Consciousness told the Torch they believe student government leaders need to be more in touch with students’ needs in order to represent them better. We couldn’t agree more.

SGI is one of the most important organizations on campus; they are charged with representing students, planning events and keeping their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on at the University. While they certainly do a great job with event planning, we believe there’s work to be done in terms of representation.

Of all groups on campus, SGI should be the one working with students to help facilitate change; they may be trying, but if students are at the point of walking into Newman Hall to force a meeting with administration, then frankly, SGI is not doing enough.

SGI only has as much power as the University will allow them, obviously. But at the same time, there is clearly more they can be doing in terms of advocacy. And to their credit, they are trying new initiatives.

The new community dialogue instituted at the start of floor meetings is a good example of this. SGI President Frank Obermeyer told the Torch this week that this new addition to floor meetings shows that the group is willing to evolve. However, it can’t stop there.

It’s easy to hear students out; taking action is the tough part.

SGI has more access to administrators than any other student organization on campus. If a high number of students are advocating for something that directly affects campus culture, SGI should prioritize facilitating conversations with the powers that be.

They don’t have to agree with the cause, but their job is to represent the student body. And they need to push hard for change.

And if they are already trying to do this, then they need to make that more clear to the entire student body. For example, the university’s Chief Diversity Officer Nada Llewellyn told us this week about initiatives she’s working on in collaboration with SGI. If this is news to us, then surely it’s news to the student body. That shouldn’t be the case.

SGI executive board members get paid a stipend for their position, and part of that responsibility is advocacy and representation. If they aren’t actively advocating for students, that’s the equivalent of not showing up for your job.

Clearly this isn’t all on SGI. Students need to be more engaged and administrators need to listen. But SGI plays the ever-important role of the conduit.

And in order for this setup to work, students need to know that their representatives are aware of their concerns.