Campus News

New SGA Plans to Serve as Student Advocates During Pandemic

Ciarra  Berry

After ending the 2019-2020 school year with only three cabinet members, the Student Government Association finally has a complete cabinet for the 2020-2021 school year and is continuing to set goals and advocate for the students of Shenandoah University. 

“We are the voice for the entire student body,” said Julia Baum, newly elected president of the Student Government Association, or SGA.

On Friday, Oct. 16, six students were inaugurated into office during the Student Government Inauguration held in the Ferrari room at the Brandt Student Center. The new SGA executive cabinet is: Julia Baum, president; Katie Davis, vice president for graduate affairs; Armani Cheilchani, vice president for undergraduate affairs; Madison Shand, chief of staff; Pedro Flor, director of finance; and Kasey Charles, director of communications.

SGA is a student-led organization. Its primary goal is to represent the students of Shenandoah University. The executive cabinet makes decisions for clubs and organizations on campus as well as advocates for students during House of Delegates meetings with administration.

Due to COVID-19, things have changed on campus, including SGA. Baum served on the cabinet last year as the director of finance and knows first-hand the changes that have been made.

“We were much busier last year,” she said.

Last year, Baum said that SGA was more involved with the clubs and events happening on campus because COVID-19 was not a factor and more events were taking place. The SGA cabinet had more interaction with students and attended some of the events. 

This year, many events and activities have been cancelled or were simply not scheduled due to COVID-19. Meetings and events are happening more frequently online.

The majority of the cabinet’s duties now consist of advocating for and informing students regarding COVID-19. Pre-approvals for clubs and organizations have also increased to ensure they follow CDC and university guidelines. Whenever there is confusion regarding these guidelines, it is the cabinet’s responsibility to get clarification and provide the information to the clubs and organizations.

“This year has made people learn to be adaptable,” Baum said.

Usually, SGA inauguration happens in the spring semester, but because the university closed after spring break, the inauguration didn’t happen. Due to personal reasons and COVID-19 concerns, most of the officers left SGA. This made it all the more difficult for last year’s cabinet, because there were only three officers left: a president, a vice president for graduate affairs, and a director of finance. 

Baum stated that last year was stressful. The SGA members were not only doing the jobs they were elected to do, they also had to take on the duties of the positions that were empty.

Moving Forward: Goals of SGA

Despite the uncertainties that COVID-19 presents, SGA has goals it would like to achieve this year. Baum stated that she would like to use SGA commission to purchase care packages for students in quarantine. People receiving these packages could potentially receive things like food gift cards or arts and crafts. SGA would also like to continue focusing on keeping students safe. They will advocate for students by making sure they are getting accurate information regarding COVID-19 and reassuring students when they are concerned.

Baum said, “when [advice is] coming from a student, you can take it more seriously. When listening to administration, it’s almost like listening to your parents tell you what to do.”

Armani Cheilchani, SGA vice president for undergraduate affairs, also shared a few of the goals she would like to see achieved this year through SGA.

“I want freshmen to know to know that they are accounted for,” Cheilchani said “They didn’t get the official Hornet welcome like I did.”

Cheilchani stated that she wants the freshman class to know that the SGA cabinet is here for them. She would like to provide them with the resources they need to feel like they are an integral part of campus.

“At the end of the day, they are the future of Shenandoah,” Cheilchani said.

The vice president also has another goal that is very important to her. “I would like to incorporate Black culture more on campus,” she said.

“I feel like I belong, but I don’t feel like I’m represented.”

She would like African American students to have more of a place on campus.

“We can be more represented,” she said.

SGA members say they are prepared to achieve these goals and will continue to be student advocates for Shenandoah University during the ongoing pandemic. If Shenandoah goes fully online again, SGA members say they are prepared to continue their duties. 

Categories: Campus News

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