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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Activities & Organizations

‘I really did it’: How freshman Joshua Martin won SGA presidency


Joshua Martin

Joshua Martin is reeling after his SGA presidential election win, now the youngest SGA president in UH history and winning against the opposing party that held the seat for three years. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Political science freshman Joshua Martin wanted to make a name for himself when he stepped foot on campus. Now he’s the youngest Student Government Association president in the University’s history.

“It’s kind of surreal, it’s kind of hitting me right now,” Martin said. “I can’t believe (it), it’s me, I’m a freshman, I really did it.”

Despite his short time on campus, the president-elect has already been involved in multiple organizations during the fall semester, starting off as UH For The Students’ director of freshman relations.

Months later, Martin was elevated to the organization’s director of internal relations, where he helped in representing For The Students at a Hurricane Ida luncheon that helped feed 400 families impacted by the disaster.

Martin described the luncheon as his “masterpiece” and one of the first major projects he was proud of.

Aside from his endeavors at UH FTS, Martin sought to get involved as a member of the Black Student Union, taking part in its volunteering opportunities.

“It’s definitely an organization I truly cherish,” Martin said.

Martin’s SGA story began with applying for an open position in the cabinet as acting director of external affairs, but when he went up for appointment, the SGA senate didn’t confirm him.

Even though he was denied the official position, Martin was fascinated by SGA and only fueled his passion for representing students.

“It kind of just struck me,” Martin said. “I instantly fell in love with the organization. I really liked having the opportunity to have a platform to serve the students on a more broader landscape.”

Apart from his current position as acting external relations director, Martin is no stranger to SGA. His brother, Isaiah Martin, ran for the position of SGA president under the same party name back in 2020, but didn’t get as far as his younger brother.

“I see him as a really strong source of advice,” Martin said. “I mean, he’s definitely a strong source of motivation. I would say my brother was a really inspiring factor when it came to running for SGA president.”

With his brother’s experience running for SGA president along with encouragement from current administration members, Martin decided this could be his opportunity to carry the torch into the next administration.

As president-elect, Martin is eager to get the ball rolling on a few initiatives he has at the top of his list.

An integral part of Martin’s platform is to bring awareness to students about campus resources for sexual assault victims. These resources include free rape kits, free examinations and a 24-hour hotline.

“We believe that if we can help and come down on these people, that we can, hopefully, prevent it from happening in the first place,” Martin said.

Another policy Martin wants to implement is the “Cub 2 Coog” program, a mentorship program meant to increase UH’s graduation rate.

“President Khator has laid out an outline that she wants the University to be a top 50 university in the country in the next few years,” Martin said. “In order to do that, we need to have goals and a bold strategy in order to meet that, so that’s why we want to increase our graduation rates.”

To top it off, Martin wants to ensure students have an open line of communication with SGA. He aims to create this with listening groups.

“Right now, a lot of students don’t know where to go to whenever they feel like they need something,” Martin said. “If lots of students can’t tell me one thing that the student government (has) done, I think that’s an issue. So that’s one thing that we’re going to fix with our “Listen First” agenda.”

Martin explains this agenda will hold these groups and invite them into the senate chamber to listen to them voice their concerns. He aims for “Listen First” to improve transparency between the student bodies and the government.

Martin not only seeks to advocate for students outwardly but internally with his senate. With the election splitting the senate in half for the opposing party, the president-elect said he wants to maintain the focus of addressing student issues.

“Listening to our students, these issues are student issues,” Martin said. “If we can really promote this amongst the senate, I really think that we can create a sense of unity to bring the senators from the Conscious Coogs party as well as the #ChangeSGA ticket together.”

Martin also managed to topple the opposing party that has held the executive branch position for three years.

“Never would I (have) thought a year ago today, whenever I was sitting in my high school classroom, that I would even remotely have the possibility of being in the position that I am now,” Martin said. “I’m very humbled. I’m very thankful. And I’m really excited to get to work.”

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