Student government: A senator’s perspective

Jacob Hobbie

As of my graduation next year, I will have been involved with SGA for three years. That’s not too bad, and first off I want to thank you all for supporting me and voting for me in the SGA elections. It’s been an honor to serve you so far, and I can’t wait to continue that. That being said, let’s talk about SGA.

There has been a lot of controversy over SGA recently. Some of it comes from the excellent Vantage reporting work. A lot of it is coming from senators and talking to our friends about it. And since this is Newman, it gets around. Because of that, I wanted to talk about my own personal thoughts on SGA, talk about what happened, and what’s going to happen from my view and hopefully encourage you to think about SGA, even if it’s just to vote next year.

SGA this year went through changes. We had an Executive team last year that did a lot of work for us. They were consistently shipping out bill after bill. This isn’t to say that the senators weren’t writing anything, but I think it is easy to say the Executive team did a majority of the bill writing. And that was ok for that team. A lot happened, and it worked out really well.

Now this year, our Executive team demanded more of us. It was a challenge from Hibah Ullah herself for all of us to write at least one bill. Some people did as they were told, some people didn’t find the time and some people didn’t want to write a bill because they couldn’t see anything explicit to fix or write about. But it was change, and change is hard for people sometimes.

Not to mention, we are now a smaller group thanks to a lack of people running for office. The seats have been changed now to reflect that, which makes meetings a little tighter. That’s good, but still, change. There were other things too. A lot of procedures we had were based off of precedent and not defined in our Constitution. As many club presidents on campus know, this can lead to issues down the line and it did for us, too. We’ve fixed a fair amount thanks to the hard effort of many senators and some nights looking over text.

Overall, I want to break this down into something short: Has SGA been beaten up a little bit? Yes. And I think it had to do with a lot of different factors, including unknown rules around our standard of ethics, not voting, some confusion and some mismatched ideals. Was there also some personal drama? Absolutely, but I feel like most of you know that it’s very difficult to avoid. Take it as a reminder that your elected officials are people too, and to keep them accountable.

I’m a student the same as you, and I have homework to do, random side jobs, friends to meet with, tests, relationships to stress about, etc. We have to try to be better, but we will slip up.

Overall, I’m proud of the work all of us have done in the past two years. Our senators, even if I’ve disagreed with them, have good reasons why they’re there and why they’re doing what they’re doing. I’m even more excited for next year, and my hope for you is to see you talk to your senators and tell us what you want.

We are ultimately servants for you, so get your word out and we will do our best. It’s hard to work in a vacuum after all.

This story first appeared in the April 27th, 2017 issue of The Vantage