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Monday, October 19, 2020

Analysis

SGA Report Card: A review of the 51st administration


Justin Tijerina

Former SGA President Charles Haston changed the way that the student body viewed SGA. | File photo/The Cougar

The 51st administration of the Student Government Association has come and gone, and with a new administration under the leadership of President Shaun Smith and Vice President Tanzeem Chowdhury on the horizon, we examined the major initiatives that distinguish President Charles Haston’s administration from the ones before it.

Advising: B+

A huge issue among students, advising was a priority on the REDvolution platform when Haston and Vice President Erica Tat were elected. Bills were passed to ensure that UH’s advisers were held to the highest standards, and new policies were implemented, including mandatory advising sessions every 30 credit hours and surveys sent out to students after every session. SGA did its best, but emphasis on advising was lost throughout the year as other issues arose.

Freshmen housing: A-

Arguably the biggest initiative this administration took on, freshmen housing was pushed to the top of SGA’s docket after state senator and UH alumnus John Whitmire opposed a proposal to have all first-time-in-college freshmen live on campus. SGA urged the University to drop the commuter school label and adopt freshmen housing, providing research that shows on-campus living increases graduation rates and overall GPAs. UH decided to drop the proposal, and SGA dropped it from their docket. But props to SGA for keeping the conversation going, even when disagreements continually tried to derail it.

Transparency with administration: C-

Ongoing conflicts with the administration came to head when SGA passed a No Confidence vote against Administration and Finance Vice President Carl Carlucci and his two deputies, Emily Messa and Esmeralda Valdez, after concerns about the lack of leadership surrounding auxiliary services, parking and transportation, HigherOne, and other services. SGA jumped the gun when it came to presenting the facts and represented the students in the wrong way. While SGA had reasons to disagree with the way A&F was being run, local news stations picked up the story, shedding a negative light on the University and making SGA seem incompetent.

Student’s first mindset: A

SGA has continually advocated for a students-first mindset throughout the year, from tailgating at football games to crusading for the students at Board of Regents meetings. Something Haston has always backed, a students-first mindset is getting more support than ever — new head football coach Tom Herman has looked to SGA to serve as advocates for the initiative.

Overall effectiveness: B

Throughout the school year, SGA hasn’t been afraid to let its point of view be known. Disagreements with UH administration and the vote of No Confidence against Carlucci put SGA in a bad light among some in the UH community. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that they were acting for the students and, in actuality, put SGA’s name in the spotlight – gaining notoriety among the students and giving the student body more awareness of the powers that SGA has. Haston promised change when he first got elected, and change the game he did. While the methods used may not have been the best, SGA did their job: advocate for the rights of the UH students.

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