By the Student Government Association

The Student Government Association has taken the campus by storm this school year.

The SGA leadership started out the school year by identifying the focus areas of the yearly initiatives: community, academic support, registered student organizations, diversity, services, and safety; collectively known as C.A.R.D.S.S.

Among the 26 pieces of legislation passed in the Student Senate include the passage of the 2023-2024 SGA operating budget, 2023 Election Rules, and numerous honorary resolutions to honor various individuals and departments that have exhibited exemplary work over the past semester.

Student leadership at the forefront

SGA has taken its role as student leaders very seriously.

Student Body President Dorian Brown sat on the Presidential Search Committee, ultimately selecting Kim Schatzel as our next University President. The entire process included listening tours, selecting top candidates, interviewing finalists, and meeting with numerous departments in the University to discuss increasing student involvement in the decision-making process.

Executive Vice President Katie Hayden, along with the rest of the Top Four and their executive staff, worked with Athletics to co-sponsor an entire week full of events called “Rolling With the Punches.” The week consisted of a food drive for the Cardinal Cupboard, a tailgate in the SAC Marketplace, and bus transportation to and from the YUM! Center for the week’s volleyball, women’s soccer, and field hockey games. The latter half of the week was capped off with the annual SGA Fancyville Debate and the first annual SGA Tailgate for the football game vs. Wake Forest.

Senior Policy Coordinator Lucas Threlfall, the Top 4, and Student Senate all worked together to establish a $5,000 fund within the SGA budget to the PEACC center, for further investments in their Green Dot program and additional resources.

Forging Stronger Partnerships

According to ULPD Chief Steve Green, Services Vice President Alex Reynolds has fostered the strongest relationship seen between ULPD and SGA in over a decade. Reynolds is currently working with ULPD to make the Cardinal Cruiser wheelchair accessible or to provide an equal vehicular accommodation at least. ULPD provides walking escorts for students in wheelchairs, but several students with disabilities and Services VP Reynolds have been advocating for an accessible vehicle option. SGA is also currently working to co-host a self-defense workshop with ULPD on the Health Sciences Campus.

Reynolds worked extensively with ULPD, Physical Plant, and U of L Administration to identify areas of the campus in need of and investing in more security cameras, lighting, and security booths. Services VP Reynolds has also established a free bike lock program, encouraging students to register their bike with the University and prevent theft in return for a free bike lock rental from SGA.

Services VP Reynolds and the Student Senate successfully advocated for a return to the original marketplace design and brought back Evergrains. SVP Reynolds, Residence Hall Association President Grace Beebe, and Engage Lead Serve Board Representative Yelena Bagdasaryan successfully advocated for Meal Plan Waiver policy and committee reforms to include a new waiver category: “Dietary – Medical” – offering greater accommodation for students with medical conditions inhibiting their ability to eat on-campus dining options. Their reforms also cut unnecessary red tape and create automatic notification of dietary appeals to the campus dietician to ease the process, and inclusion of a representative from financial aid to improve committee efficiency and effectiveness, giving students decisions on their appeals quicker.

Services VP Reynolds successfully advocated for housing cancellation policy reform to include a formalized subletting policy for students, fairer standards and leniency for students struggling with financials in the Housing Appeals Committee, and cancellation fee exemption for students facing financial circumstances that would “hinder [their] ability to reside on campus]. Additionally, Services VP Reynolds and Assistant SVP Griffin Gould toured 13 Greek Row houses and suites in an effort to research the state of Greek facilities and advocate for a greater university investment in maintenance and utilities. Together, they created a comprehensive Greek Housing and Suite Facilities report sent to all involved Greek organizations, fraternity and sorority life advisors, and relevant UofL administration. Reynolds and Gould plan to use this in advocating for a common Greek maintenance form and greater facility investments.

Breaking Barriers to Education

SGA began a partnership with the Student Success Center, located inside the Belknap Academic Building, to provide students with access to niche class items at no cost.  Calculators, lab supplies, and iClickers are some of the various supplies that UofL students are able to rent on a semester basis.

In October, they had the ribbon cutting and dedication of the University’s new Center for Engaged Learning. The CEL provides a single point of entry for businesses and organizations seeking students for engaged learning experiences. Engaged learning also helps students increase involvement on campus and develop a sense of belonging, key factors that help increase student retention and persistence to graduation.

Also in October, they had the ribbon cutting and dedication of the University’s new International Center and Passport Place. The International Center fosters a campus culture that is inviting to international students. With a variety of backgrounds on campus, they are diversifying the Cardinal point of view, establishing an enriched classroom experience, and including various cultures in our cumulative college curriculum. The Passport Place offers stateside students assistance with obtaining a passport.

SGA has begun a review process of the UofL compassionate withdrawal process, thanks to the advocacy of Assistant Academic VP Emma McClellan.  They are working with Student Advocate Sam Mckenzie from the Dean of Students Office in order to make the compassionate withdrawal process easier and more efficient for any student that may need it.

Creating Community

The executive staff and Top 4 participated in and collaborated with the other branches of SGA in many of their events for last semester. They participated in the annual Lip Sync Battle and other homecoming events, attended ELSB’s  SOUL and MLK Days of Service, and coordinated with SOAB to plan the SGA x Athletics tailgate.

They collaborated with the School of Medicine to fund a student-led service trip to Hazard, KY following the flood devastation in Eastern Kentucky. Students from the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and Undergraduate Campus were in attendance, and the School of Law conducted an additional donation drive for EKY.

Project Coordinator Jedidiah Tillman spearheaded the planning and execution of several events held at the planetarium on campus. While not fully open, the planetarium offered special light shows free of charge for students to celebrate various holidays.

Looking Into 2023

The momentum gained in 2022 will not stop any time soon. The Student Government Association is excited to continue progress towards bettering campus for the Cardinal Community through a variety of efforts including hosting a leadership workshop with the PEACC center and expanding partnerships with additional units within the university. To learn more about SGA’s overarching initiatives, visit their website.

The Top 4 releases monthly updates on their website and Instagram to inform students about what has been accomplished to improve transparency and accountability.