The President’s Corner

Want a voice in what happens at Norwich? Join the SGA, and vote

Student Government Association (SGA) elections are coming up Feb. 25 – March 1. This is a great opportunity for you to exercise your right to participate in the shared governance of the university. The SGA is the student organization that is committed to working on maintaining a positive relationship between the student body and the administration by serving as a hub for communication and the source of problem-solving efforts for issues of concern to students.

The SGA is a vital component to student life on campus and works closely with the faculty senate and staff council to work out issues. This is what it means to be an engaged citizen. Students: I implore you to vote in a couple weeks. Then, next year, run for office and learn first-hand what it means to govern. The opportunities for effecting meaningful change for the everyday life of students and the community are limitless.

For instance, last spring, a number of the newly elected and outgoing SGA executive staff and senators participated in the university open forums that helped me and the university evolve the Title IX office into a larger mission of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). We learned vital information from students about their experiences, their concerns, and their ideas for improvement. That work resulted in a restructured office, moved from under human resources and now under student life, with a new name of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The office was physically moved from Jackman Hall to a new location in the Wise Campus Center and now has a new mission dedicated solely to student issues and no longer processing employee reports (that function is staying under human resources).

The Office of DEI now has the ability to offer more resources, training and programming to students, like this week’s presentation by “Hamilton” star Bryan Terrell Clark – “Finding Your Purpose: From Baltimore to Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’.” Throughout the fall and into the spring, the SGA executive staff has worked with the Title IX officer and the Counseling and Wellness Center to expand programming in multiple wellness areas. This will manifest in Mental Health Week Feb. 18-22, with activities and a special guest speaker, and other campus climate trainings.

In addition to the changes with Title IX, our Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Sandra Affenito has formed the DEI Committee, comprising staff, faculty and students across all departments to address issues of campus climate.

Throughout the fall and culminating in January, the SGA executive staff has been working with the university academic administration and the faculty senate about modifications to the Academic Latin Honors program, which affects all students. This was a really big deal and demonstrated how shared governance can improve the university.

Other areas of interest and focus for the SGA are: public safety; concerns for our international students who may not have a place to stay during short; the question of where students can store motorcycles during the winter; surveying students to learn what their concerns are; providing snacks during stressful times, like Reading Night, and many other initiatives. The SGA holds open forums for students to voice their concerns and find opportunities to contribute to problem-solving.

Norwich’s SGA also gets out and interacts with peers from other institutions for professional development and to learn best practices. On Feb. 23, the SGA will send a group of representatives to St. Michael’s College in Colchester to attend their Joint SGA Conference with keynote.

The senate is ideally made up of students elected from each lifestyle – corps and civilian – from each class. And the SGA executive board includes elected positions such as the SGA president, vice president, and treasurer with a cabinet of appointed positions, such as public affairs officer.

The executive board and senate each meet once a week and monthly both bodies meet together. Through the use of their official Facebook page, the SGA has been very effective in transparency, introducing you to officers and publishing meeting notes regularly. That is also a great resource for free programming for students, such as self-defense instruction with Military Arnis. I strongly encourage you to check out their page to really get a sense of the energy and vitality of these students who are working on your behalf!

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