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Editorial: Addressing student concerns

April 4, 2019

As the semester winds down to a close, it’s time to start looking ahead to fall semester. In that spirit, it’s also time for UT Student Government elections.

Students can access the elections through InvoNet by logging in with their UTADs; ballots opened April 1 and will close April 4. The site can be accessed directly, or a link to the ballot can be accessed after logging in to Blackboard.  

 

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates in this year’s election include Becca Sturges and Maddie Lawson, Dhaval Bhatka and Jersey McClendon and Cameron Forsythe and Dillon Horter. Candidates for SG Senators include Anna Walker and Grannt Epstein.

 

So, sure, you know how to vote in Student Government elections, but why bother? What does UTSG actually do for you?

 

More than you might think.

 

Student Government serves as the liaison between the student body and UT administration. If students have concerns, they can bring them to the attention of UTSG to hopefully work toward a resolution.

 

We reached out to current student body president Drew Williams to find out more about what UTSG has been focusing on recently.

 

In an email, Williams highlighted that his administration has worked on “making sure students are and will be at the table when discussing policies that affect us, such as the medical amnesty policy and the student code of conduct.”

 

Over the summer, the university clarified that student organizations or groups are not sanctioned under the Medical Amnesty Policy, which states that “a student who seeks medical attention on behalf of themselves or another individual experiencing an alcohol and/or drug related emergency, will not be subject to conduct action for the alcohol and/or drug use.” Amnesty is granted to individual students only.

 

Williams “made sure representation from our Greek councils, multicultural orgs and organizations such as Rockets Against Sexual Assault were present in the discussion about what students would like to see” going forward.

 

Additionally, the current UTSG administration has implemented both “Popcorn Tuesdays” and “Watcha Want Days,” which both seek to engage the student body and facilitate a more personal rapport with Student Government members.

 

With Popcorn Tuesdays, students are encouraged to come to the UTSG office for direct contact and assistance, a continuation of previous administration’s initiatives.

 

A similar option to voice concerns is available on their webpage, allowing for students to address their opinions and ideas online. Adding Popcorn Tuesdays doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but instead extends a list of ongoing “changes UTSG is making” to pursue its agenda.

 

In an effort to make campus life better for students, SG should be focusing more on initiatives like Watcha Want Days, which involve Student Government members riding around campus to inquire what students would like to see on campus and sharing the pieces of legislation being written that affect them.

 

For example, first-year Senator Epstein penned legislation to get ironing boards into UT residence halls.

 

“This way, student government can seem less pretentious and more like a student org that understands what attracts students and allows us to take a more personable approach,” wrote Williams.

 

If you want to get involved in UTSG or just stay up-to-date with what’s happening, meetings are held every Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. in Student Union 2592. Or, drop by the Student Government office in SU 3152 for Popcorn Tuesdays.

 

So, take elections seriously and think about who you want to represent you in the coming year. One vote can make a big difference.

 

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