Tag Archives: SGA

SGA President working towards a number of Helpful Initiatives

Photo from Radford University Student Government Association’s facebook page

Radford University’s Student Government Association (SGA) has a number of helpful community building initiatives that it is working towards implementing to promote a closer and more productive student community. SGA and their President are working with the University and Radford City Administers to organize several safety walks. They also plan to contribute to President Hemphill’s community food drive. They also intend to improve sexual assault awareness on campus, promote diversity on campus, help students vote in the upcoming governor’s election, and make feminine hygiene products easily and more readily available across campus buildings. There are even plans to get involved with Radford’s various clubs, of which there are more than 270.

This is a great and encouraging use of the campus resources. While Radford is not a terribly big university, we still have a large number of students from a variety of backgrounds. Many of the students do not interact with each other or get very involved in campus life and while we cannot reasonably expect everyone to know each other and get along, SGA is making a great effort to get the residents of the university involved. SGA is also making the university a safer and more enjoyable place for everyone.

It is encouraging to see people get involved in their community this way. We often see a great deal of bad news and have to deal with the aftereffects of those sort of things happening. So it is nice to hear about how people are working towards improving one’s community. This will hopefully encourage more people to get involved and help promote a more enjoyable experience here at Radford University.

Campus Safety Walk Sheds Light on Radford’s Darkest Places

On Wednesday, October 26th, the members of the Radford community, including the Student Government Association, Radford City and University police departments, university administrators, along with other students came together for the university’s bi-annual Campus Safety Walk. This event, taking place once each semester for the past four years, allows for these groups to meet together and identify safety concerns on campus and in the surrounding communities. Through their collaboration, this group identifies areas with improper lighting, emergency phones, and sidewalks that need updating in order to ensure that students are comfortable walking after sundown.

While it seems like a small effort, the impact of this event can be seen throughout the community. Over the last four years,

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“Through their collaboration, this group identifies areas with improper lighting, emergency phones, and sidewalks that need updating.”

Radford has seen an increase in the amount of safety measures taken, such as brighter, more numerous street lamps and the installation of new emergency phones on campus. Many of these improvements can be attributed to the Walk, which allows for direct communication between students and administrators and helps them find the greatest areas for concern.

This year, the team was able to identify several areas that needed to be addressed, however, the total number of unsafe areas has decreased because of the year-to-year improvements that are being made.

All in all, these walks are a great time for people to come together for the greater good of our community; the more frequent interactions students and leaders can have with one another, the safer Radford University and our city will be.

Radford’s Ready for the Election

With just a few short weeks to go, the presidential election of 2016 is almost here. This election has truly been one for the history books, and Radford University students are ready to take part in this important election year.

With efforts from the Voting Action Office, ran as a part of the Student Government Association, students this year have made a point to take the time and register to vote or apply for an absentee ballot if needed. As of SGA’s recent October 17th meeting, 533 students have taken the time to ensure their vote will be counted and voice will be heard on November 8th.

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“The number of students registering this year is far more than that of last year.”

The number of students registering this year is far more than that of last year, the first year the Voting Action Office was established. This can be understood in part by the national attention a presidential election receives, as well as the nature of this grueling 2016 election season.

While most students hear the usual buzz about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Radford goes beyond looking at the two major party candidates, with many students supporting third-party individuals such as the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and even independent conservative Evan McMullin. For many here on campus, they believe it’s time to let go of the traditional two-party system and recognize the alternatives that may be a better choice for our nation.

Regardless of who you support this election season, it is critical for every student to be informed and go out to the polls on Election Day. The Millennial generation is the largest voting bloc for the very first time in America’s history this year, meaning we have the power to put who we want into the White House. Make sure to take part in this great civic duty of ours—if we don’t, who will?

Smoking on campus: It’s complicated

As college students, we all love those days when the weather is beautiful and we’re not dreading class (for once). Then all of a

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Not a very healthy habit. Photo by Sydney Crawson.

sudden, your face is engulfed with a cloud of smoke. I don’t know about you, but nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than sucking in a giant breath of cigarette smoke. Of course students have the right to do what they want with their body; I’m not telling anyone to stop smoking. However, I find it rude to puff away on a busy walkway, especially during class changes. Waiting a few minutes to smoke away from a crowd would be the best idea.

Continue reading Smoking on campus: It’s complicated

The Advocacy Day experience

Squadrons of turtleneck-wearing Radford University students accompanied by administration and Board of Visitors chaperons roved the Virginia General Assembly for Advocacy Day. The event, which is organized by the Student Government Association every year, serves to show state representatives in Richmond that the voices of students need to be heard.

Elliot Blumberg, a member of RU’s SGA reports on his experience at Advocacy Day. Continue reading The Advocacy Day experience

Meet the new SGA president

On Nov. 25, the student body at Radford University learned of a significant change in their student government; President Lee Hicks was stepping down, and Executive Vice President Emily Redd would become the new president.

The email said Hicks was leaving the position and the university for medical reasons.

“Although I am very sad that Lee resigned, I believe he made the correct choice and wish him a speedy recovery,” said Dean of Students Don Appiarius.

Hicks told the SGA executive board of his plans to step down on Nov. 10 at their meeting. After this announcement, the SGA prepared to elect a new president.

Lee Hicks. Photo by Austin Tuley.

“He had been very sick, in and out of the hospital all semester,” Redd said. “He needed to go home and get healthy.”

The election was between Redd, and Justin Blankenship, the legislative vice president. The vote was put to the senate and each person followed the procedures outlined in the SGA constitution. The vote took about 45 minutes, which Redd said felt like a lifetime, but in the end she came out the victor.

So, how is she going to fill such big shoes on the spot? She’s relying on her executive board and the organization to be flexible.

“It’s tough just coming in and picking up everything,” Redd said. “It’s chaotic but it’s been pretty smooth. The organization has taken it in stride and it has gone as well as it could have when an organization loses a leader.”

Redd said she hasn’t run into any big issues yet, just the small hurdles she expected.

“I’m just trying to get my feet underneath me.”

The main responsibility of the president, according to Redd, is to orchestrate a connection between the administration and students in order to turn ideas into actions. Her first act as president was meeting with Appiarius and Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Shanley. They sat down and laid out expectations and the changes they wanted to see in SGA and the administration.

“SGA is losing its relevancy on college campuses,” Redd said. “I want to improve communication to faculty, administration and students. Without that [communication] we don’t have a goal or a vision.”

After meeting Redd, Appiarius and Shanley developed high hopes for Redd and her future with SGA.

“I have full confidence, which I have heard consistently reinforced by other students, faculty and staff, that Emily will lead a very smooth transition and will do an excellent job as the student body president,” Appiarius said. “She is equally committed to advocating for students and responsibly representing their interests and concerns to the administration and faculty.”

Shanley agreed, adding his belief that the senate, executive board and cabinet will rally around Redd in a collective effort to get SGA back on track and alter their agenda so they can identify and respond to student interests and concerns.

Now that she’s president, Redd has a new vision for SGA.

Emily Redd. Photo by Creative Commons.

“I want students to know what SGA does and make SGA relevant,” Redd said. “That’s something we need to fix as an organization. We need to mix the big ideas that take time to work with the small things they can see immediate benefits from.”

In order to do that she plans to get SGA out there and make it more personal.

“Emails, Facebook and fliers are too impersonal, so they get ignored,” Redd said. “I want to get face to face with students. The more face time people have with us, the better we will be as an organization.”

Her plans for the future are to plan more forums about campus issues, plan a state of the student body speech event and increase student appreciation days.

She wants students to see SGA in action and spark interest in the organization in hopes of increasing membership.

“With more members we’ll get more opinions, and the more opinions we have the better we’ll be.” Redd said.

Changes coming to Standards of Student Conduct?

According to Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Mark Shanley, Radford University’s Standards of Student Conduct are being reviewed and the changes under consideration are related to alcohol policies and new provisions for responding to sexual assault and violence.

Shanley, while unable to say exactly what the changes are likely to be, said that the changes are not characterized as stricter or more relaxed compared to the current policies.

“The changes are intended to provide a clear, educational emphasis for conduct regulations and sanctions and a more pronounced focus on encouraging protective behaviors regarding student health and safety,” Shanley said.

Possible changes regarding response to sexual assault came into consideration following a “Dear Colleague” letter from the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights office. This letter thoroughly defines what is considered sexual harassment and includes gender-based harassment, even when it doesn’t involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Code of Conduct. Photo acquired from Radford.

According to the letter, “The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.”

This holds true in the current Standards of Student Conduct. The letter was meant as guidance for schools to consider when revising their codes of conduct. The letter also included some facts about how common sexual assault is. It said that a report from the National Institute of Justice found that one in five women and 6.1% of males are victims of sexual assault.

Right now the punishment for committing sexual assault ranges from conduct probation, suspension or expulsion. The punishment is dependent on how severe the incident is.

Victims of sexual assault are given the options to seek medical attention, get counseling, refer the violator (if a student) to the Radford University police department, Dean of Students or Office of Residential Life for a conduct charge, file criminal charges and change their living and class situations.

Another set of standards under scrutiny are the university’s alcohol policies. Last year, the Student Government Association passed a resolution to give amnesty to students who seek medical attention due to alcohol poisoning, and a “Good Samaritan” clause for students who call emergency services for other students in need of attention.

“I am unsure as to what the final outcome will be after administration puts in their changes and alterations, however, what I hope to see is a policy that is strong and guarantees amnesty for the Good Samaritan,” said SGA President Lee Hicks. “I would also like to see the policy focus more on education than punishment for the person who required medical attention.”

Hicks also hopes that if these changes are adopted, it will decrease the chance that students won’t get needed medical attention out of fear of getting in trouble.

Right now nothing is set in stone for the new Standards of Student Conduct. The revisions must first be passed through the new Dean of Students, Don Appiarius, who must finalize his review and pass it along to administrative and internal governance review and approval.

Pushing politics in a new way

Many students only pay attention to the political arena around presidential elections, if ever. On Wednesday, March 23, Radford University’s Student Government Association, Political Science Society, Young Democrats and College Republicans invited a few people to push the idea of politics, minus the agenda.

The panel of political leaders. Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The panel started off with the membership director of Virginia21, Brittany Tyler. She described her job as taking the issues of college students and trying to find a solution for them. Virginia21 is an advocacy group for higher education and works with college students throughout Virginia to have their voices heard on a wide range of issues. When describing the beginning of her political career in college, Tyler explained how positive the experience was.

“Getting in, especially in college, is a lot easier than students usually think,” Tyler said. “I was really shocked and amazed at how accessible my legislators were.”

When explaining the role Virginia21 has played in helping college students overcome issues, she went back to before 2005 when college textbooks weren’t available online and students couldn’t buy them until they found out what they needed in the first week of classes. Because Virginia21 pushed the issue, college students have more ways to purchase textbooks.

Next, Radford Alumna and Virginia Tech Legislative Liason Elizabeth Hooper told the crowd how important networking is.

“Right now, the fact that you can connect with all these people on your campus is priceless,” Hooper said.

Her advice to students was not to burn bridges unless it’s completely necessary, and to use their professors as much as possible. She also pointed out that politics are important for everybody, and that to be able to understand the world, people need to have opinions about politics and talk about them.

“There really are jobs out there for political people and political science majors,” she said.

After a brief introduction with the head of each student group holding the panel, the main speaker was introduced: Delegate David Nutter.

“One of the greatest experiences of college is to be involved in extracurricular activities,” Nutter said. “Your academic programs are good, helpful, they train you, but you really get to apply to a laboratory setting in student activities … they may be what you learned in class, but you also apply what you learned in class.”

Delegate David Nutter, center, giving a speech. Photo by Emily Licktic.

 

Nutter feels that politics ultimately serve to help the educational setting as well as the chances of getting a job after earning a degree. However, higher education doesn’t always get much attention, and it is often used as a means to generate money rather than trying to improve the education students receive. For this reason, Nutter believes that all college students need to be active in politics because it affects what happens in the schools as well as what happens when people leave school.

“What happens here is critical, and being an advocate and raising that up is important,” Nutter said.

However, Nutter sees that there is a lot of complaining about policy, but not many people willing to step up and do something about it.

“Everybody wants services, but no one wants to pay for it; that’s a reality,” he said. “It’s rare to get more than five to 10 emails on an issue.”

Nutter sees that the bright side for Virginia is that it rewards a little more than the national average for college degrees. Right now, a big issue is how to make higher education more available to the ages above the 10 to 22-year-old group that typically makes up a college campus. This will promote education for people who want to make career changes, and he hopes it will have a positive effect on the economy.

To encourage the crowd of political science majors, he said that the youngest member on the Virginia General Assembly is 27. He told the students not to wait until they’re old because the time for their involvement is now.

Sam Mason’s candlelight vigil email is disrespectful and offensive

Burnt out candles from Sam Mason's Vigil. Photo Courtesy of The Tartan.

I’m sure, as most of the school population has admitted, that many of you didn’t read the SGA e-mail sent last week. They were talking about how there would be a candlelight vigil in Sam Mason’s honor. Instead of showing remorse for the loss of a student, they turned it into an alcohol education e-mail and told us to read the handbook.

Seriously? Has the SGA sunk so low that they have resulted in lecturing students about alcohol in order to try to save the school’s ass for allowing this to happen? I am not saying that the school is completely responsible; some people have to learn their limitations and not drink until they pass out. But the fact that they made an emotional e-mail into an after school special is just plain disrespectful.

“While the investigation is still on-going, alcohol abuse is suspected to have contributed to Sam

Dishing out knowledge

Students participating in the food forum. Photo Courtesy of Thomas Bowman.

The Student Government Association teamed up with Dining Services to host a forum on Wednesday, Oct. 20 addressing student concerns about food options. Around 35 students filled the middle rows of the Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium to hear Director of Dining Services Ben Southard address their concerns.

Several other dining services staff members were present to help Southard answer questions and go over other information, including the marketing director, the director of nutrition and customer service, the director of operations, the catering director, the director for the retail shops in the Bonnie and Dalton