As we get closer to Student Government Association elections once again, I have found myself pondering this past year. I can truly say it is a privilege to have served as President with such a great group of Senators and other officers. A once hesitant candidate became a grateful person that is delighted to have committed to this organization.
As I suspect it is for every outgoing President in any SGA, it is easy to look back on the year and notice all of the shortcomings. There is a long list of things I wanted to accomplish but failed to do. However, one of the things I have learned through this process and from my new relationship with our SGA Advisor, Joel Hughes, is that one of the most important aspects of reflection is taking pride in the things you did accomplish.
Over the past year, our SGA has achieved an incredible amount of accomplishments. We passed updated governing documents that aim at fostering future growth for the organization. We debuted a pilot Political Speaker Series in which Dr. Deravi spoke to almost 100 students about economics, healthcare, and the future of the state of Alabama. We engaged over 300 students in the political process by bringing a diverse group of people together to watch a Presidential Debate. Our SGA relaunched a Freshman Forum program for the first time since 2012, which has inspired those members to continue to pursue leadership positions throughout their college careers. We spurred the establishment and growth of S.A.G.E., a group promoting environmentally friendly policies. We led students speaking up to change the way we talk about sexual assault and rape culture. We brought over 100 students to Higher Ed Day and led the parade of college students across the state to the front steps of our state legislature. Our Senate led an academic advising survey to gather student perspectives on how our faculty can do more for our students. These are just a few of the things our organization has one over the year, and I could not be happier of our group.
I do not write this to pat myself on the back, but instead, I write this to bring notice to the incredible group that has committed to our student body over the past year. Nothing would have gotten done without this great group of people. I write this for another reason as well, and that is to tell you that you can be a part of this great organization as well. As incredible of a group as this was, we all came into this year as normal, everyday students not different than anyone else. Together, we grew, stuck together, and worked as a unit. We developed friendships and supported each other through every form of struggle that can be imagined from painful losses to the stress of final exams. You can be a part of that cohesion, and the only thing you need to do is desire it. Student government is there for you, not only to support the student body as a whole, but to empower any student that desires to grow as a leader and a student. I encourage you to learn more, run for office, or seek a cabinet appointment following elections. I will close with a quote, one that has been my favorite since I read it my freshman year:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead
By Ethan Gregory