After an election controversy, calls for the sale of alcohol on campus and support for a new parking structure, Nicki Taylor’s time at the Student Government Association is coming to a close.
The SGA President said perhaps the organization’s biggest accomplishment this year has been the establishment of an accepting culture.
“I think the No. 1 thing that we have done this year is for the most part we have been able to create a culture that even though we may disagree on issues sometimes, we don’t hold grudges that sort of make the organization malfunction for the rest of the year,” Taylor said.
Taylor said throughout her four years in SGA, tense issues often led to tense debates that ultimately ended in a loss of friendship. This year, the tables turned.
“This year we really emphasize that it is our job as student government to work together for the student body even though we disagree on certain issues,” Taylor said. “We’ve had people who have tensely debated against each other on one particular issue and then co-authored on another issue that they did agree on later which I think is our greatest accomplishment overall because that makes us function better for the student body as a whole.”
Current SGA Speaker of the House and President-elect Jay Todd Richey said this year has been successful, but also one of the most controversial years in SGA history.
“The reason we’ve had these controversial pieces of legislation is that there are many things about this university that need to be changed as well as be addressed,” Richey said. “…I believe our senators have done an incredible job basically just bringing up legislation that is very diverse and focused on many different aspects of the university.”
Taylor said some of SGA’s accomplishments include creating a limited-smoking campus, the possible implementation of a fee to support the construction of a parking structure and making SGA more inclusive.
“We did designate the office as a safe space for anyone,” she said. “I think that’s a wonderful thing that we made it clear that we are here to serve all students.”
Taylor also created the Cultural and Diversity Affairs committee to promote diversity. She said diversity is an issue SGA must continue to tackle.
Richey said he hopes to put CDAC into maximum overdrive alongside his initiative, MyCampusToo, to continue increasing diversity.
MyCampusToo is an initiative focused on incorporating underrepresented students into SGA.
“The entire purpose of MyCampusToo is not only to allow marginalized and/or minority students to be far better heard on campus but also to make our university as inclusive as a campus as it possibly can and should be,” Richey said.
MyCampusToo has four main points: encourage underrepresented students to attend SGA meetings every Tuesday at 5 p.m., encourage underrepresented students to run for a senate seat, having special sessions for all students to attend to discuss a particular topic and the creation of a cultural center.
Taylor said the job of SGA president is huge.
“There’s literally so much potential and so many meetings you have to go to and so many issues you can tackle and research or discover,” she said. “At the end of the day there’s only so much of you and so much that you can do, so I feel like I’ve done a good job being able to balance my coursework and still putting a lot into SGA and also my married life too.”
Taylor said it’s imperative future SGA presidents manage time well and take time for themselves. She said it’s also important to tackle issues throughout the entire semester instead of tackling all of them at once.
“Usually SGA presidents can fall into the trap of trying to do everything all at once and so quickly, that they’re so tired and burnt out by the end of the spring semester that they can’t really get much else done,” Taylor said. “That would be my advice, to make sure you can do all that you can for SGA and make sure you take time for yourself.”
Taylor said she will definitely miss SGA.
“I think I will miss making a difference for students because at the end of the day that is really what motivates me to do what I do,” she said.
However, she said she won’t miss the busy and stressful schedules.
“I will not miss running around like a chicken with its head cut off and putting in long hours to do all this stuff,” Taylor said.
SGA has been an integral part in Taylor’s college experience and she has learned so much about politics, public relations and more.
“It has given me a lot of practical, real world experience that I will be able to use hopefully in a job someday, Taylor said.
She said without SGA, her college experience would’ve been totally different.
“I think for me SGA definitely impacted my life, but not in the usual way it impacts students because I met my husband in SGA my freshman year,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she wouldn’t know the administration and wouldn’t have been as familiar with the administration on campus.
“I would just kind of go to class, go home, maybe have been involved in another student organization but I wouldn’t be that familiar and that involved in the day to day administrative life of the campus,” she said.
Richey said being SGA president will teach him what it’s like to be in public service and to show others how he cares.
“I hope this will show not only me but students how much I care and how much I want to make a difference,” he said.