After the resignation of SGA President Mat Wheeler and Vice President Caddo Lowery during the fall semester, the remaining senators and a few veterans of the organization came together to try and pick up the pieces. Headed by Interim President Larry Dicus and Interim President Pro-Tempore Jonathan Nwosu and working under the guidance of former executive members, the body aimed to have an emergency election set up by mid-October along with constitutional revisions ready for the student population to vote on.
“Looking at how things seemed better on paper compared to in practice, we soon realized that six weeks is not enough time,” Dicus said in January.
Among such difficulties of practice, Dicus cited complications related to the role of the executive oversight committee vis-a-vis the president. In addition, many of the senators who got on board with the organization last semester graduated or left for other reasons. Now, the election will be delayed until the end of the semester, where the students will be able to vote on the constitutional revisions.
Though he admits there is much work to be done, Dicus says he would prefer for the organization to be where it is now than where it might have been if no one had taken up the reins. As such, he and other members are doing what they can to make this semester one of action.
During the break, Dicus conducted weekly meetings with Chancellor Rogerson and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Mark Allen Poisel. The interim president said that he has not seen many of the complaints from students besides there being a lack of diversity in class selection, but he says that the administrators have been receptive to his suggestions.
On the first day of class, Dicus hosted president’s council, a meeting where representatives of student organizations come together to share their concerns and coordinate events. The agenda included topics such as how to increase student awareness of organizations on campus and upcoming organizational projects. This was the second of a now monthly series of meetings which began last semester.
At the first SGA meeting of the new semester, the senate passed two bills, both authored by Dicus: one which will make meetings take place every other Thursday from 4:30 to 6 for the remainder of spring 2019, and another that gives additional responsibilities to senators relative to their respective colleges.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive that a body struggling to accomplish its goals would want to meet less often than before, Dicus believes that the change will have positive effects.
“It will definitely streamline how we do business since meeting every week seems to be stressful, seems to take up everyone’s time,” Dicus said. “It will definitely increase morale.”
The second bill obligates senators to conduct meetings with the administration of their respective colleges for the purpose of building relationships, and also makes them responsible for hosting informational events within their colleges to give students an idea of what the SGA does.
Other SGA projects for the semester include adopting a street, continuing Summer Sendoff, and creating stronger ties between the SGA and the Graduate School Association. Sen. Quinshell Smith, who represents the graduate school and College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, is leading the charge for the latter cause.
“I feel like we can get a lot more stuff done working together. I feel like graduate students can be maybe like a mentor to the undergraduate students,” Smith said. “My main goal honestly is just to really build a bond between the two and build the communication.”
Dicus also wants to improve communication, as he believes it to be one of the factors most strongly affecting student engagement. In fact, he said that his biggest regret from the fall semester was not giving students enough notice about the chancellor’s open forum and president’s council.
It is spring now, as far as the academic calendar is concerned. It remains to be seen, then, how much of the recent change will endure the season and how much will evaporate after the coming showers.