Giving students a louder voice

Sam Houston students are about to have a bigger say in University affairs.

Under a plan approved by the Student Government Association last semester, the organization has reformatted itself, making it more accessible to students.

All the plan needs is President Gaertner’s approval.

The new format – which provides for the specialization of student senators – calls for the organization of four new departments to be run by SGA executives and senators.

“The new focus is on advocacy,” SGA President Christopher Whitaker said. “We changed structure to better suit the needs of students.”

The departments include University Affairs, which will unite student liaisons with University administrators’ External Affairs, which will give students a say in Huntsville and state concerns, Student Affairs, dedicated to hearing the voice of students and Internal Affairs, a division to keep SGA running smoothly.

The departments will be presided over by chiefs that are able to organize executive assistants and hold meetings.

Michael Thomas will head the University Affairs department. His division will be in charge of handling the interaction between students and the school administration.

By creating a relationship with administration personnel, Thomas hopes that his department will be able to bring student concerns directly to the source.

“I think that having less bureaucracy is going to make communication a lot simpler,” Thomas said.

Angela Varner has been named External Affairs chief. Her department will handle everything outside of the University including the city of Huntsville, Alumni and the Texas legislature.

“I think it will be more functional,” Varner said about the new departmental system. “There will be fewer committees and committee meetings, so more people can get involved.”

Josh Burns will head the new Student Affairs department. His division will maintain the relationship between students and SGA.

“I hope to be the first step,” Burns said. “I feel that I should be the gateway between SGA and students.”

President Whitaker said SGA decided on the new format in order to focus more on this connection between students and SGA.

“[The new SGA] is geared more towards advocacy,” Whitaker said. “If students come to us with grievances or student issues, we could just go straight to the source because we would have developed working relationships with administrators.”

Vice President of SGA Jason McKnight will preside over the Internal Affairs department. Due to his Vice Presidential position, McKnight already serves over the Senate.

This department will deal with rules, finances and general command and control.

Besides creating a more student-friendly SGA and developing a direct liasion to University administration, the new organization will also allow for future SGAs to adequately deal with their problems.

“Because of the flexibility of our system, future SGAs can adept to whatever challenges they face,” Whitaker said.

SGA holds meetings every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in LSC room 315. In order to participate, students can attend a general meeting and complete the requirements to become a student Senator.

If a student has an issue that he or she wishes to be addressed, they can visit the SGA office in LSC room 306 or call 294-1938.

For more information, contact the Office of Student Government Association.

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