SGA: A turn for the better

We stepped into our positions in May because the school needed leaders. There was little precedent to follow, but we do not shy away from challenges.

In June, we made a game plan. Emphasizing collaboration, trust and transparency, we mapped out a new trajectory for DePaul’s Student Government Association and the university at large.

Fast forward six months later, and we’ve made some incredible progress. From the creation of a Senator for First Generation Students to represent a third of our student population, to the riddance of handing out harmful plastic straws on our campus (though keeping them available for those who may need them) and offering metal alternatives by creating partnerships and facilitating discussions of the importance of sustainability, DePaul SGA is taking a turn for the better.

Often, the student voice goes unheard in the cacophony of higher education. Administrative bureaucracy can get in the way of positive change, but our partnership and teamwork actively reform how change happens at the university level. When choosing to step into these roles, my one quip to Emily remains true today: “If I’m going to do this job, I’m going to do it as well as I possibly can.” Her response is ingrained in my brain as clearly as the DePaul advertising campaign: “Let’s do it.”

A key tenet of our success is follow-through. We have nurtured relationships both internally in our organization and externally with the student body and university administration. We maintain a commitment to transparency by publishing quarterly transparency reports edited by our four executive vice presidents, which detail the successes, connections, events and tireless work of their respective senators. Our platform was more than a tool to gain an election.

From interviews with student media to consistently rearranging our Google calendars to be available to meet with and hear out students, transparency is key to successfully running DePaul’s Student Government Association. We want to hear students’ thoughts and discuss solid, actionable solutions. We are solutions-focused people with big goals and the power to see them through to completion.

This past fall quarter, our General Body exploded with energy and a desire to advocate for those underserved populations here at DePaul. We saw the formation of committees for students with disabilities, sexual wellness on campus, mental health resources, drug policy, Earth Week, diversity training and LGBTQ+ students. Two of our senators collaborate with local universities to build greater community among those striving for higher education reform. We have representation on the Sexual and Relationship Violence Committee, TEDxDePaul speaker selection, commencement speaker selection, Student Organization Speaker Review Board, SAF-B, Career Center, Dean reviews and several other groups on campus, through which we are better able to advocate for our students.

Our election cycle this fall was successful in engaging a multitude of the students at DePaul in civic responsibility and resulted in the election and appointment of a total of 11 new organization members in our General Body. We initiated a new presentation opportunity this winter, Quarterly Senatorial Reports, in which our senators present their initiatives, ideas and current status updates. Bouncing these ideas of off each other in such a supportive, connective environment boosted our internal morale and expedited plans across committees. This kind of internal collaboration is a microcosm of the kind of vital relationships we are actively working to foster here at DePaul.

Over the summer, Emily and I met with multiple members of senior administration for an introduction, explaining our initiatives and how they tie into the strategic plan. We identified retention as a key point to making the DePaul experience a great one. Citing both of our Chicago Quarter Mentor experience, we stressed the importance of a continuous mentorship program, not just a quarter long one. A sustainable program would help to address students’ needs more holistically and extends our commitment to St. Vincent’s mission to serve those most in need. Administration listened: Beginning this quarter, every first year student is matched with one of 21 Student Success Coaches who will help guide what success means for these new Blue Demons. As two of those Success Coaches, Nahal and I are eager to see the difference this program will make here at DePaul.

We’re just getting started. As Nahal shared in her speech at New Student Service Day in September, “Being Vincentian means being kind. It means serving. Whether that be in community service or your daily life, being Vincentian means embodying the characteristics of helping others.” As official representatives of DePaul, we are guided by the Vincentian mission and seek to have at the core of all of our initiatives a commitment to living out a Vincentian legacy.