As students return to populate the campus once again — busy picking up textbooks, catching up with friends and finding perfect places to study for the inevitable exams — the Student Government Association (SGA) is continuing the work they began during the fall semester.
Within the previous semester, as well as the summer leading into it, SGA has accomplished a great deal, including the renovations to the student center, development of the food pantry, filling potholes around campus and replacing plastic foam containers in the cafeteria with reusable ones.
SGA President Gabrielle Alténor and Vice President Mac Foley are pleased with the progress they have been making, each elaborating on their previous work.
“My absolute favorite thing that we did last semester,” said Foley, “were the discussions about mental health.”
Immediately agreeing, Alténor explained how important it has been to support the mental health of students as the world continues to cope with COVID-19.
“Especially with quarantine, isolations and Zoom fatigue, everything is adding to the plates of students in addition to (their) hard academic setting, so we had conversations with administrators to see if we could get more services for students and more accessible options.”
Alténor and Foley said SGA’s continued commitment to addressing mental health has led university administration to actively help in this initiative.
In addition to the positive changes already being put into motion by SGA, the executive board is forging ahead with items on their agenda for spring 2021.
“What’s really cool about this semester is that we are trying to make sure we’re coordinating student programs so that we can be bigger and better for the students so that they have more opportunities to be engaged on campus,” said Alténor.
She continued by elaborating on some tentative plans for celebrating Black History Month.
“SGA and Student Life are hoping to have weekly showings of movies (with) strong Black leads so that we can really appreciate some of our best actors that we have in Hollywood, and recognize some of the big themes that some of these films are going to be portraying. We’re (also) going to have some engagement with The Kansas African American Museum.”
Opportunities with The Kansas African American Museum may include a day when students can visit the museum for free as well as volunteer work and even the chance to win a membership.
Moving past February, March will have a “system safety check” theme ensuring that the minds, bodies and souls of students are well taken care of. This could include exercise opportunities and providing food to help students nourish their minds and bodies as well as spiritual mindfulness events to aid students in connecting to their souls.
April brings a “showers and volunteer hours” theme, giving students chances to volunteer with a variety of organizations, such as working with Special Olympics, creating care packages and potentially collaborating with the Gardening Club for Earth Day.
Alténor stated that SGA strives to “see what changes can be made for students and how they can positively affect them. We’re always trying to think outside the box and see how we can use our capital to make positive change.”