How much power does SGA really have?
During election week, students across campus turned their attention toward GC’s Student Government Association, leading some to question the magnitude of SGA’s influence on the student body and what exactly they do for students.
“SGA’s greatest power is influence,” said Executive Director of Campus Life Tom Miles. “They represent the voice of students.”
However, Muller is not supreme ruler of SGA at GC. He has a full cabinet underneath him, a senate to pass bills and a judicial board to interpret the bills to students. There is a system of checks and balances in place so that one member of the SGA cannot become too powerful.
Muller explained that he, as president, has the power to appoint students to cabinet positions as well as appointing students to committees in charge of dealing with different issues that might come up. As SGA president, Muller said that administration at GC always contacts him first and looks to him as speaker for the students at GC.
“Because we’re structured like a government, I oversee directly my executive board and my cabinet, but the Senate can do whatever they want,” Muller said. “I can’t tell them what to do. I can advise them, I can ask them things, but at the end of the day, they propose the bills, they propose the resolutions, they could theoretically impeach me, [and] they have their own power.”
One of the more considerable actions that the SGA has sponsored and advocated for is the addition of the 24-hour atrium study space on the bottom floor of the library. This space was open for a while in recent years but closed due to data collected from the library about peak times for use.
This 24-hour space will reopen on March 25, 2018, and will be a space for students looking to do some late-night studying.
“The 24-hour study space was brought to us by some nursing majors,” said SGA Chief of Staff Austin Hughes, a senior psychology major. “Apparently nursing majors go study at Kroger late-night because apparently Kroger is open 24 hours, but you know students shouldn’t have to go to Kroger to study.”
Hughes also encouraged students to reach out to SGA, which they can do through social media.
“Since our [SGA’s] main role is the advocacy, we can’t fix anything if we don’t know about it,” Hughes said.
One common misconception about SGA is that it’s a club for students.
“It’s not a club,” Muller said. “It’s really like a student union, so we vouch and advocate, and that’s what our job is. In my opinion, SGA’s main goal is to make it easier for everyone else to do what they want to do, so we’re not out there making these giant events, but most of our job is working with the administration improving campus life.”
Muller’s administration’s influence led to the reopening of the atrium 24-hour space in the bottom floor of Russell Library, as well as opening up lines for students to go with Muller to talk to Provost Kelli Brown.
“We meet once a month to talk academic issues, and while you don’t see direct change, it’s easier for us now to bring up issues, and that change happens a little bit over time,” Muller said.
GC administration reserves the power to override decisions made by the SGA.
“Some of the changes in parking, like something we don’t always agree on, but they happen, so a lot of those changes in parking we don’t love, they [GC administration] have to work with a lot of interest groups, you know, so that’s interesting,” Muller said.
While SGA can be overridden by GC administration, it does not happen very often, and it is not a high-tension event.
The SGA works with students every single day to advocate for parts of campus to be changed or reworked, and members encourage for students to step into the offices on the first floor of Magnolia Ballroom and talk to an SGA official about change.
At the end of the day, the SGA is a platform for students to express how they feel and have someone on the other end who can enact that change. It is part of the duties of the SGA to sit down with students and discuss change on campus or to devise ways that an aspect of campus could function better.