Gray Whitsett is running for the position of SGA President
“This year, I wanted to run a different sort of campaign, specifically by coordinating with a candidate for Speaker of the House, Ross Larson. Together we’ve been able to craft complimentary platforms and a consistent message that targets issues about which we both feel passionate.
I came into Centre College with the goal of serving on SGA. I was elected my first year, and went on to serve as the Campus Improvement Chair as a sophomore. I was able to accomplish a lot that year – beginning the communal umbrella program, expanding the rentable chargers in the library, renovating the sand volleyball court behind Cheek-Evans. We did good work. But ultimately I was dissatisfied with the way things were run. There was a collective disorganization that hampered anything we did as a group, and I believe that persists today.
Centre College’s Student Government Association is only as successful as the number of students that support its advocacy work and engage with its initiatives. Unfortunately, the majority of students continue to be confused about why SGA exists and what it actually does. We want to change that. It’s a student government, and students should be able to easily understand what SGA is working on. By going to back to the core reason SGA exists – to serve you – SGA can have a meaningful role advocating for the issues that are important to all of us, uniting this campus through collaboration and dialogue, and improving the simple things in life.
This leads the student body to not know the worthwhile measures SGA has taken, but the real tragedy is the fundamental lack of dialogue between SGA, the Student Life Office, and the student organizations that populate this campus. We just don’t talk to each other enough. This results in actions by SGA that aren’t relevant to the campus community, student organizations feeling alienated by their representatives, and Student Life policy that frankly just isn’t the best.
This leads me to my central promise to the student body: we plan to meet with every student organization before the end of this term to address what their priorities and needs are for the coming year. If there’s something you as a student want done on this campus, I want to know, and I want to fight that fight with you. From these meetings, I plan to draft a priority list, explicitly stating key issues for the coming year that members of SGA and the student body can reference throughout our terms. If we aren’t fulfilling our obligation to this list, we will hold ourselves accountable, and give to students a concrete measure of the progress we’ve made. Constructing such a priority list early allows us to begin taking substantive action over the summer and in the beginning weeks of the semester, even before the first general session of SGA.
It’s no secret that SGA manages a significant budget. Indeed, all student organizations derive their funds from SGA. I believe that allocating this money and allowing student organizations to spend it as they see fit is the most effective to ensure these funds are spent
wisely. However, throughout the academic year SGA still has a budget, and we have a responsibility to devote it to programs and initiatives that achieve productive and meaningful goals. I believe SGA has failed in this respect, and this couldn’t be better illustrated than by the fact that SGA exec members receive a semester salary.
These salaries are a waste of financial resources, as they neither incentivize good work nor encourage a sense of shared responsibility among the representatives, and while they constitute a small portion of the total budget, they serve no real purpose and amount to monetary waste. Additionally, past SGA presidents have sponsored executive retreats in an effort to build cohesion among the officers. This is a respectable goal, but expending hundreds of dollars on this is completely unnecessary. There are numerous locations on campus suited for this purpose – let’s use them.
As recent events have shown, we as a student body must have a stronger and more capable voice on this campus when dealing with the college administration. The Student Life Office works tirelessly to assure a healthy and positive campus community, but it is simply impossible for them to solve every student issue that arises throughout a given year. This isn’t to discredit their hard work – it’s just reality.
It is essential to SGA’s purpose to serve as a liaison between the student body and administrative offices like the SLO. Regardless of who these are – Sodexo, ITS, coaches, or deans – their service to the college affects all of us, and you elect representatives in part to communicate with these individuals. I plan to meet at least twice a semester with these administrative organizations to evaluate their campus concerns, chiefly because these concerns become student policy if left unaddressed. Furthermore, I would invite representatives from their offices to general session and executive meetings, both to educate the student body on upcoming initiatives and discuss possible amendments to student policy. It is SGA’s responsibility to anticipate change on this campus, and I plan to do just that.”