SGA began the first of its weekly meetings Tuesday. SGA will likely continue to face problems with COVID-19 in addition to its usual legislation.
Katie Brust, the SGA Vice President, said she was looking forward to how young the senate is compared to previous years.
“I think that with COVID in particular, a lot of older students began focusing more on career related activities rather than more campus or student organizational related activities, but you always see a lot of engagement with the underclassmen, so I think that’s part of it. Also, I think that we just have a really special group of underclassmen that work really well together and are excited about things,” Brust said.
Miranda Schulte is the Chair for the Internal Review Committee. Internal Review, as Schulte puts it, is a vital but less-visible part of SGA, which is more behind the scenes than Student Affairs and Government Affairs. Schulte is also excited about the new faces in SGA
“We only had a couple meetings before the end of the school year last year with all the new at-large Senators and it was just kind of quiet, so like I’m very excited to see what all these new individuals bring to the table as well,” Schulte said.
Carter Linke, the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee, is concerned with student re-engagement with relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m super excited that as a Student Affairs chair that we’re able to kind of get back to a new normal on campus. We’re expecting quite a bit of either legislation, or just some concerns with how things are going to transition back into this normal so I can definitely see this being a busy semester for student government,” Linke said.
Schulte and Linke both mentioned how the election process might be revised this year.
“I’m looking at… redefining the process (for at-large elections) because in our bylaws it’s very vague, which is like awesome and a lot of room to like pick and choose how you want to go about it, but I feel like it also causes a lot of confusion, especially within my committee, so I kind of want to focus on redefining the at-large process,” Schulte said.
“One big thing that we want to handle is making it as easy as possible for students that are interested in being student leaders on campus to get into office,” Linke said. “I’ve actually spoken to a few senators that are excited to introduce legislation that would change the election process to help as many people as possible get on the ballot so that we get the best possible candidates.”
Brust said in addition to focusing on supporting student mental health resources like the Cook House, she is trying create more financial resources for USD’s international students.
“I’m trying to establish an international student scholarship. So, instead of people receiving money to study abroad, more of people coming in and students coming in from different countries and supporting them financially is a priority of mine, and overall I’d say (those are) my two major initiatives I have along with Ally Feiner, but we’re also looking at a few other options,” Brust said.
Brust and Linke both express hope for this semester, even as COVID-19 numbers increase. Brust said SGA’s Executive team will likely ask senators and directors to wear masks during meetings.
“As a leader on campus, I definitely think that just getting vaccinated and still protecting the pack (is important), even though we’re kind of dialing back on some of our some of our COVID-19 restrictions,” Linke said. “It doesn’t mean that COVID is over yet. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and others from getting COVID and getting severely sick.”