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Friday, September 18, 2020

Student Government

Duo wants to change culture of SGA

Student Government Association presidential and vice-presidential candidates James Strickland and Michael Perkins said they want SGA to take more action when helping students. | Robert Garcia/The Daily Cougar

The goal to see the Student Government Association become a stronger advocate for student’s needs and rights is central to the agenda for presidential candidate James Strickland and vice-presidential candidate Michael Perkins.

Recent frustrations with the UH Financial Aid administration fueled Strickland’s desire to run for the position. Strickland and Perkins, both out-of-state students, said they experienced lengthy delays before receiving their financial-aid funding needed for tuition and books.

“I did everything right and was told so by the Financial Aid office, but everything kept getting delayed,” said Strickland, a math and finance junior.

Strickland contacted SGA in an effort to resolve the issue, but felt the group could have offered better assistance.

“When I asked one of the senators about it, I found out the only thing they did with my request was to forward the email to the Financial Aid Office,” he said. “It just seems to me that the SGA is too passive and doesn’t stand up for students’ needs when it comes to administration issues.”

Perkins, who is also a math and finance major, said he didn’t receive his financial-aid funding until three weeks following the end of that semester.

“I’d go (to) the Financial Aid Office every week, and each time I was told everything was fine and approved for my funding and that I’d have my money any day,” he said. “If you have to pay your rent and there’s no way to get your money, it’s impossible to just walk into any bank and get it.”

The candidates also expressed their desire to improve campus conditions and amenities, as well as dining and pricing at several outlets.

“If you go to the Subway, there’s no $5 footlong (sub). The prices at Taco Bell are substantially higher than off-campus locations,” Strickland said. “Why are we being charged a premium when we’re students? If anything, we should be getting a discount.

“I know Aramark has the dining contract with UH, but it just seems that they have a monopoly with on-campus dining and can charge us what they want,” he said.

Perkins said he wants to see the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library implement more advanced technology.

“Look at the computers at the entrance of the library. Almost all of them have been broken since I got here more than a year ago,” he said. “There (is) no reason they can’t be fixed, and maybe it just takes a phone call.”

Both candidates said they could provide a stronger advocacy on behalf of students in dealing with UH administration if elected to lead SGA.

“I understand you don’t want to step on people’s toes,” Strickland said. “But if you’re standing up for people, that’s what you have to do sometimes.”

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