Involvement, improvement and inclusiveness are what Student Government Association President Teagan McNary and Vice President Josh Anderson promised on the campaign trail last February.
A year later, the USD community has seen numerous senate bills proposed, student organizations growing and McNary and Anderson’s three pillars being built.
McNary said the work she and Anderson have been doing over the past year shows that they care for the students they serve.
“It’s a good example of just showing that we do care about the students and we want to be approachable,” McNary said. “We want to work for the students and I think that was a good example of one way that we’ve done that.”
Before McNary and Anderson were elected to office in March, there were numerous SGA debates about a wealth of issues such as GAF fee increase to athletics, a proposed resolution for USD to become a sanctuary campus, election reform and gender-inclusive facilities.
Anderson said it was great to see students discussing the issues affecting campus, and these debates shaped why he and McNary wanted to commit to SGA.
“They were hot topic issues to students and they were passionate about discussing these things and wanting to know what’s being done,” he said. “It reinforced our decision to want to do this because seeing the impact of what can happen and some of those conversations did continue.”
McNary said student government can be a slow process at times, but a rewarding experience.
“It’s not something that’s going to get constituents like really excited. But when we do have those issues I think it just makes it really fun,” McNary said. “It makes it interesting to see students come out and voice opinions and want to be heard. I appreciate that.”
McNary and Anderson said they have always tried to serve students with their three pillars.
The involvement pillar was intended to encourage students to attend more campus events. Anderson said they also hoped to educate students about the resources offered, and they hoped to open lines of communication between students and elected student officials.
“I think that at any (campus event) we’ve tried to make ourselves available and try to educate our senators so they can be served as a resource,” Anderson said. “I think that’s one of the most important duties of a Senator is (to be) a resource for the same as an executive.”
Anderson said keeping an SGA presence was vital to opening those lines of communication between students and elected student officials.
“That’s one of our biggest things is for us to attend events and show our presence and try to encourage others to go,” Anderson said. “I know we want to try and make ourselves be in attendance and also encourage all these senators to be there, be vocal, be visible and be present.”
A university appreciation
Kim Grieve, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said she met with John Howe, associate dean of student services, each week to go through McNary and Anderson’s agenda to talk about any ideas that they are interested in and things that are beneficial for the university.
“One of the things that was mentioned was certainly building the relationship with student federation of the Board of Regents,” Grieve said.
Grieve said that no matter what McNary and Anderson worked on, they did their job well and represented the university in a positive light.
“I’m proud of how they represented the university and how they reached out and built partnerships with all of the vice presidents on campus,” Grieve said. “They met monthly with each vice president or president to see what kind of things they are thinking about and letting them know what students really are concerned about or would like to see changes with.”
Ross Oyler, a first-year SGA senator and international studies & political science double major said that McNary and Anderson did well in leadership and management, however, room for improvement could have been student outreach.
“As for what they could have done better, I would say more student outreach,” Oyler said. “I realize that’s probably a common answer, but there is still defiantly a student and student government gap that I believe every administration struggles to close.”
Hannah Ross, a first-year strategic communications major said that the next executive office candidates have big shoes to fill.
“As a first year student I didn’t know much about SGA but it grabbed my attention as a pre-law minor,” Ross said. “As anyone leaves an office position and someone continues they always have shoes to fill as they have to continue what they’ve started.”
McNary and Anderson met many challenges throughout their administration, in working to obtain a veterans memorial on campus, working with the student federation to build more relationships with other universities and deciding which bills to support.
With the start of their campaign to the final months of their administration, McNary said conversations were started to help students.
“When you first start off who knows, it’s like everything is a shot in the dark. You don’t really know what you’re doing at all,” McNary said. “Everything on our list in terms of what we promised for the campaign, the conversation was definitely started.”
As their administration nears an end, Anderson said things don’t always go as planned.
“You can go through and talk about all the things you looked at during the campaign and come through and be really excited about it,” he said. “Not everything that we set out and really wanted to do was possible to do in a year.”
McNary said what she learned during her administration was a willingness to adapt to a new environment, not just in SGA but in life.
“The biggest thing I learned is the ability to adapt,” McNary said. “It’s so important because you go into something with a specific mindset of what’s going to happen and how things are going to get done, and very rarely does that happen.”
After SGA, Anderson will stay involved on campus as the president of Tau Kappa Epsilon and a member of student ambassadors, but he will not seek re-election as an SGA senator.
“I’ll still be busy as ever, but it’s exciting,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from this, and I’m excited to take that into other things now as well. Just because we’ll be out of office doesn’t mean we can’t still be a part of the process.”
McNary said she will be taking more time for herself and channeling her passion for the university in new avenues.
“I’m taking a victory lap so I’ll still be around campus but I think it’ll be like that transition period between like being a student and being a professional,” she said. “Our passion for the university as a whole and for the well-being of students will continue.”