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Monday, October 25, 2021

Opinion

After 50 years of SGA, their next big step should be perception


The Student Government Associate meet every other Wednesday in its new senate chamber in the University Center north on the second floor, rather than the rented space in the Rockwell Pavilion as it did in previous years. The new office and chamber offer SGA members an opportunity to be more visually present to students.  |  File photo/The Daily Cougar

The Student Government Associate meet every other Wednesday in its new senate chamber in the University Center north on the second floor, rather than the rented space in the Rockwell Pavilion as it did in previous years. The new office and chamber offer SGA members an opportunity to be more visually present to students. | File photo/The Daily Cougar

Public perception and reputation go hand-in-hand. For student organizations, both are equally important for their longevity. As officers and members graduate, a new generation moves in to take their place. If an organization doesn’t remain consistent or continue to grow, it risks becoming inactive. A problem that arises, especially at UH, is student awareness.

With a campus as large and diverse as ours, it’s easy to get lost among the rest. It’s not that any single organization is necessarily better than another, but with so many options for students, it can be difficult to stand out from the rest.

Prior to coming to his first senate meeting, biochemistry junior Chris Huynh had only heard of Student Government Association from the cheating scandal that happened during the election process a few years ago. “These guys are sophisticated. SGA does things in an organized manner,” Huynh said. “They really do want to address student issues and I like that about them.”

Technology sophomore Gary Flemings had a similar experience with SGA. “Before, I didn’t really have a solid perception of SGA. All I had heard of was the scandal. They work hard to come to policies that improve student life.”

After a discussion with mathematics junior Meghan Meriano, the most common perception might actually be no perception at all. It’s hard to have a perception of something you are completely unaware of. It seems that the majority of students are unaware of SGA.

I don’t blame them. I asked around, and a common answer I’ve received is that people only see SGA around election season, which is coming up in February. It makes sense; that’s when members physically go out to campaign for their platform.

“I think they really help out around campus. You get a certain amount of representatives for your college and they make the decisions you would want to make,” Meriano said.

When I asked what other students perceive of SGA, the answers weren’t necessarily positive or negative.

“I don’t think a lot of people know about SGA. It’s one of those things that’s underground until they’re having elections and all of a sudden people are asking for votes,” Meriano said. “I’ve never heard any negative things from people who did know what SGA is.”

SGA has a reputation for coming off as exclusive, and there’s definitely room to make a bigger impact. “Not a lot of people know about them until election season,” said hotel and restaurant management junior Shining Wang. “But I think they’ve had more of a presence in the past year because they had a lot of students involved with the planning of the New UC.

“I see SGA having a lot of meetings with student officials, but I never see them at events sponsored by Council of Ethnic Organizations or Student Programming Board. … Maybe if they had more socials or more of a presence at these events, more people would notice them.”

“SGA’s presence is not felt. I’ve been to a lot of student organization meetings. I was there at the New UC kick-off,” said public relations senior Kimberly Cooper. “SGA did not seem to mingle with anyone.”

With the popularity of social media continuously on the rise, there are plenty of tools that organizations can utilize to connect with their audience. The University is on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, to name a few. Even then, it might not be enough.

Student interaction is the most important asset to every student organization. It’s how you recruit new members, get people involved and showcase what separates you from every other student organization. All organizations have their niche. Discover it and use it to your advantage.

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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