Former SGA president reflects on past two years of service

For the past two years, I have had the tremendous honor to serve as Student Body President of WKU, leading the Student Government Association and representing all WKU students on the Board of Regents. That comes to an end on May 2, when my successor, Andi Dahmer, takes the oath of office.

As I reflect on the incredible experiences I have had as president, I can’t help but think of the accomplishments we’ve achieved, accomplishments that would not have been possible without countless students, faculty and staff with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.

In an era of rising tuition costs, fighting for college affordability has been a personal priority of mine as well as the organization itself. For two years, we’ve taken unprecedented steps to rally for higher education at the Kentucky Capitol and lobby the General Assembly to reduce cuts to universities, working with university officials to successfully press lawmakers to stave off a 9 percent cut in the latest round of budget talks. And as chair of the Board of Student Body Presidents of Kentucky, I’ve worked to organize students across the state to advocate for higher education.

At WKU, we’ve established three new SGA committees: MyCampusToo, Sustainability and SAVES, which have revolutionized student efforts on diversity and inclusion, green living and ending violence and self-harm. We’ve expanded services for active military and veteran students, helped introduce Rave Guardian for campus safety and received statewide recognition for our efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault. We’ve helped launch WKU’s first eSports program and started the first SGA Voter Empowerment Initiative, registering hundreds of student voters.

And we’ve selected the tenth president of WKU, Dr. Tim Caboni. We’ve also set a fairer GPA requirement for SGA and created new SGA scholarships, including for students with disabilities. We’ve reformed the representation of regional campuses in SGA, established a $2,500 partnership with WKU Student Legal Services and a $1,000 partnership with the WKU Counseling and Testing Center and introduced the Earn-A-Computer program to promote community service.

And for two years in a row, SGA has been voted as the best non-Greek student organization in the Best of the Hill competition. The legacy we have built together has been defined by fearlessness and boldness. As I prepare to graduate, I cannot express how grateful I am to each member of the Hilltopper community for making my university experience greater than I could have ever imagined.

I’m also grateful that I can pass the baton to my friend Andi Dahmer, who has been an outstanding leader in the Student Senate. I have no doubt that Andi will serve our university with energy, vision and strength. But continuing our legacy is not up to Andi alone. It’s up to every student who wants to make this university a better place.

I’ve seen what can happen when students fight for change, and I’m confident that the best of what Hilltoppers can do is yet to come.

Letter submitted by former SGA President Jay Todd Richey