SGA to combat financial burdens

By Katy Nielsen

An anti-graffiti campaign, a new student center and a partnership with Metra are some of the Student Government Association’s initiatives, which were presented at its first meeting for the coming year on Sept. 14.

The SGA will also work to increase student enrollment, maintain a clean campus, fill its Senate seats and add more bike racks.

SGA President John Trierweiler, senior broadcast journalism major, said he is optimistic about what the SGA can accomplish this year.

The continuation of the anti-graffiti campaign—an effort to raise student awareness—was one of the first issues on the SGA agenda.  Graffiti walls, or large white boards, are an instrumental part of that initiative.

“We encourage students to draw and write on our graffiti walls,” Trierweiler said. “The point behind it is we understand the need to express yourself and your artistic ability, but know the line between art and vandalism.”

The graffiti walls were used during Manifest last spring and at Convocation this year.

“The college spends over half a million dollars on cleaning up vandalism and graffiti every year,” Trierweiler said. “And that’s [student] tuition dollars.”

Senators made posters and flyers to inform students about the money the college spends to remove graffiti.

“If you see something, say something,” Trierweiler said. “Call Security.”

Another goal for this year is a push for the creation of a student center. It is something Trierweiler said he thinks is important for the Columbia community.

“Almost every college in America has one and we don’t,” Trierweiler said. “We’ve got the space and we’ve definitely got the imagination to create one, but I think we just need to get the ball rolling and get people motivated.”

In addition to a student center, the SGA is working on ways to reduce student expenses. Senators are in communication with other Chicago colleges and universities, including Roosevelt and DePaul universities, to get Metra involved in a reduced student fare.

“We’re hoping to team up with U-Pass,” Trierweiler said. “There’s really no reason why we can’t include Metra too.”

According to Trierweiler, the partnership would benefit Metra as well because “it would increase Metra’s ridership” and encourage students to ride to the suburbs.

Other ways the SGA is working to reduce student expenses have been through supporting scholarship funds.

“We’ll continue to push for scholarships on campus,” Trierweiler said.

The SGA supported the Faculty and Staff Scholarship Initiative last year.

Columbia SGA members traveled to Springfield, Ill., last year and lobbied to save the Monetary Award Program.

They succeeded.

If the program had been cut, it would have affected Columbia students as well as thousands of college students throughout the state, Trierweiler said.

At the meeting, two students were officially appointed to the senate.

Casey Gold, junior arts, entertainment and media management major, was appointed senator-at-large and AJ Abelman, sophomore photography major, was appointed photography senator.

“There are a lot of changes I would like to see happen in the Photography Department,” Abelman said. “There are a lot of opportunities I would like to provide for photography students as well as Columbia students in general.”

She said she hopes other departments will collaborate with photography students.

Aldo Guzman, director of the Office of Student Engagement and adviser to the SGA, said student government is an important part of the college and an amazing opportunity for students.

“They get to have a real impact on decisions being made in the college,” Guzman said.

Lobbying for MAP in Springfield was one way SGA impacted students across Illinois.

As a new school year begins, the SGA is working to improve Columbia.

“We’re looking forward to a very positive and influential year,” Trierweiler said. “A lot is going to be happening.”