Student Government Association calls for student volunteers to join committees

Sun, 2016/10/02
Ethan Castro
It is an unfortunate conclusion that the Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) lacks sufficient transparency or clear communication in its projects and functions. There is definitely some merit to this claim. SGA lacks a formally recognized forum for inputting feedback, and regular SGA meetings are at a somewhat inconvenient time (Wednesday nights at 9:15 p.m.) This conception is one issue that SGA hopes to address in the upcoming semester, as expressed by Executive Vice President Sonia Kamdar. One of her primary directives for SGA this year is to “increase SGA's impact and transparency by dedicating a committee to work on events and advertising and by utilizing several means of communication with the student body.” Thus, a new project from the SGA Communication Committee will be to regularly feature updates on committee projects in every issue of TechNews. First, we should get to know each committee of SGA and the scope of their projects. Each senator is to pick from one of these four SGA committees and from there, decide on an individual project to work on and document. In addition to representing their individual colleges, SGA senators take on campus-wide projects from one of the four Committees: Academic Affairs, Student Life, Communications, and Events.

Led by Vice President of Academic Affairs, Akash Raina, the Academic Affairs Committee of SGA “essentially deals with any matter that affects the academic experience on campus,” as stated by Raina himself. For example, “the committee recently proposed that quizzes and exams may not be held during career fair hours, which should be in effect very soon [...] Some of the projects our senators are working on are increasing printing funds for architecture students and expanding flexibility when it comes to checking out books from the library.” Although it can be a thankless and sometimes heavily bureaucratic commitment, the Academic Affairs Committee of SGA is an invaluable asset in addressing students' key experience as members of Illinois Tech, their formal education.

Qianran He is the Vice President of the Student Life Committee, which in her eyes “solves most of the real life problems around us.” Student Life is focused on improving the day-to-day living conditions around campus, from developing the HAWKi app to changing the school shuttle pick up locations, or just adding a whiteboard in MSV. Basically any problems or ideas Illinois Tech students have in their daily life could be set as one of our projects to work on.” One current project He’s senators hope to tackle is the revival of a student discount card, offering discounts to Illinois Tech students among local restaurants and shops. Between Academic Affairs and Student Life, SGA hopes to facilitate avenues for change across every level of this university.

The Communications Committee of SGA is responsible for the direct image of SGA among the surrounding community both on and off this university's campus. This distinction is an important one to make, as it is a goal of Vice President of Communications Jelani Canty. Canty sees it as an obligation of Communications to expand the role and availability of SGA “not only within the scope of Illinois Tech, but within Chicago as well.” Specific projects to carry out this initiative include collaborations with student organizations through an ongoing SGA senator liaison project and local community volunteer opportunities. Canty himself is currently in an open dialogue with the local Boys and Girls Club of Chicago to create new volunteer opportunities to link together the entire campus. Similarly, the very writing of this article is another such effort by Communications to more directly engage the student body, which is the overall goal of Communications.

Finally, the newly created Events Committee of SGA hopes to establish regular events, both casual and professional, meant to push SGA as a visible, available, and approachable organization. This Committee is still looking for a Chair to lead it, but SGA President Hamze Leo Sukkar is confident that this committee, alongside the ongoing projects of the aforementioned committees, will help to break the illusion of SGA as a secretive and inaccessible organization.

However, these committees do not work alone. Elected senators are held to an expectation of working in a chosen committee and documenting their project progress, but these projects always welcome volunteers. As President Sukkar himself says, “[volunteers’] role is vital, and we need volunteers who could be interested in joining the Events Committee, among others. The committee can function at its best with larger numbers and we are still looking for passionate volunteers/members to help us 'navigate the uncharted seas' with a new established committee.” Moving forward and as a senator myself, I hope and will work to ensure that SGA grows in its visibility and project impact. The creation of articles such as this is simply one step in that process.