SGA looks to revamp reputation

Courtesy Kwijona Calvin
The Student Government Association held a meet-and-greet for students at 916 S. Wabash Ave.

Led by its new president, sophomore science & mathematics major Sara Kalinoski, the Student Government Association is excited to present is reinvented image and function to the student body, Kalinoski said.

SGA is already taking steps to rebuild a sense of trust with the student body by highlighting the importance of students’ influence on campus, according to Kalinoski. The organization hosted an ice cream social Aug. 27 in the lobby of Columbia’s 623 S. Wabash Ave. Building, which more than 100 students attended, she said.

SGA will focus on campus-wide initiatives that have previously been introduced to the faculty and administration, such as creating a student center and ensuring textbook affordability, Kalinoski said. Kalinoski told students that the organization would follow through on last year’s proposed resolution to either cap tuition increases or slow down the rate of increases so they are below the national average.

“The college has a new provost, CFO and vice president of Development, and SGA is right there building a partnership with the faculty and administration,” Kalinoski said.

Another priority is to redefine SGA’s presence on campus, Kalinoski said. It has participated in student-centered events including Convocation, Weeks of Welcome and Columbia’s annual Casino Royale.

SGA Executive Vice President and junior journalism major Teddy Hill said making a positive mark on the college is about representing the students and hearing their concerns and questions. SGA is looking to act as the liaison between students and the administration in order to tap into resources needed to attend to student concerns, she said.

“We are making sure students know about us, who we are and what we’re doing,” Hill said. “We’re making ourselves approachable and available to the students to let them know that we’re always here for them.”

Several SGA board members share the spirit of increasing the sense of community for students and the administration at Columbia. The board is looking to connect them and create an atmosphere of solidarity around campus through open discussion about ideas and collaboration in an attempt to get everyone involved, Hill added.

Niki Lytton, a senior cinema art + science major, attended the meet-and-greet and said she was enthused about her opportunity to interact with SGA so openly. Lytton said she had interest in pushing the initiative for a new mascot at the college and she came to the event hoping to get clarity on how to acquire one.

“To incorporate elements from traditional colleges that Columbia may be lacking in its community, like a mascot [is important],” Lytton said. “[It is] Something that departments and come together on and unite the school,” Lytton said.

Jerel Ballard, vice president of finance and a sophomore broadcast journalism major, said the faculty has been more cooperative this year. Faculty members have nominated students for SGA participation now that they are more familiar with its presence, which may be responsible for the student interest in SGA, he said.

“The thing that is different this year was being invited to faculty retreats before the school year started,” Ballard said. “This is the first time any SGA officer has had the opportunity to stand up and speak.”