Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 25, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Commentary: SGA needs student input and involvement

We call this college home for four short years and then we move on, oftentimes leaving the problems facing the campus for the next group of students to solve. And in those four years, we often do not take the time to understand what progress has been made before us. This four-year frame of reference limits our potential. We cannot move forward if we do not know our past.

For years, the Student Government Association has been unable to fill open senate seats. For years, we have struggled to engage the student body. And maybe that is ingrained in the culture of Ithaca College, but it doesn’t have to be this way. And so I’m asking for your help, for the help of any student who cares about the future of this institution.

The most common question I am asked about the SGA has to do with how much power we have. Student Government provides a platform to its members, not power. We do not seek office for the title, but for the opportunity to make a difference. We are the bridge between the
student body and the administration. The SGA has a unique opportunity to hold meetings with the administration, but we need innovative ideas and solutions from the student body to present at those meetings. We need to work side by side with the student body to accomplish major initiatives.

So let’s work together to end the apathy on this campus — the apathy that limits our potential and closes doors before we can open them. The apathy that results in five candidates for senate this cycle when there are 13 more seats available. And this is not to say that the SGA is the only way to make a difference. There are students on this campus doing amazing work in a variety of organizations — students who rise to the challenge and become leaders. They give time and effort to causes because the outcome affects their lives and the lives of the students who will walk on this campus years down the road. We need more students like these in the SGA and other organizations if we are going to have an
engaged campus.

The State of the Student address is just one way we hope to engage and educate the student body. For too long, we have told you what we are working on without providing a forum for feedback. The State of the Student speech will address the issues facing the campus and the solutions we are working on. The most crucial part, however, is for you to respond to us and provide your input. We will be improving our outreach efforts, but we need you to meet us halfway.

The student bill of rights is an initiative that requires student voices for it to be successful. A draft will be accessible for review at Constitution Day on Sept. 17, and we invite all students to give us feedback. These are not and cannot be the rights that just SGA members believe we have but the rights that the entire student body envisions.

Oftentimes we limit ourselves to what we know. When we think of how to improve the campus, we start with the framework under which the college already operates. We look at problems and think of how they can be addressed in the current situation. Let’s start with a clean slate. A blank piece of paper. What would you draw? What words would you write to describe your vision for the college? This may be difficult, but it’s a necessary challenge. When we remove our preconceptions of how the college has to operate, we can dream big and envision a new Ithaca College.

Our SGA Executive Board this year was not elected to stick to the status quo. Along with the senate, we plan to make significant positive changes on this campus. But no matter how many hours we devote, how many meetings we hold, how many resolutions we pass, we cannot do it without the student body. We need your input. We need your voice. We need you.

Kyle Stewart is the SGA vice president of communications. Email him at [email protected]