Junior Austin Mehmet has officially been chosen as the next Student Government Association (SGA) president after running unopposed. Mehmet has two prior years of student government experience, both as a senator and treasurer of SGA.
Some of the new president’s immediate concerns involve controversy around Friday classes, student employment, campus safety, and student involvement.
Mehmet hopes to stop the expansion of Friday classes.
“One of the first things that is going to be on our agenda is a petition to the university to stop the adoption of Friday classes. Personally, I would be severely affected by this if it was already in place; I had an internship that I was only allowed to do because I had no Friday classes,” Mehmet said.
According to Mehmet, these opportunities are “invaluable.”
Mehmet also wants to ensure that UIS students are receiving proper pay for their university jobs.
“You’d be surprised how many students have very technical positions that are being paid [minimum wage]…that I think needs to be reevaluated.”
Another concern of Mehmet’s is the visibility of graduate positions on campus, citing complaints from graduate students about a perceived lack of employment opportunities, when in reality most of the positions are not posted on Career Connect, which is where most students go to look for campus employment.
This year Mehmet has been behind an SGA initiative to increase lighting available on the east side of campus, which is one of his campus safety initiatives moving forward. Mehmet sponsored a resolution which requested the implementation of new and improved lighting on East Campus this semester.
Another problem that Mehmet hopes to address is the lack of student involvement. “One of my big issues is that SGA has kind of been in the background […] we don’t do a lot of advertising and I think that is a problem. We don’t use a very aggressive social media policy, so a lot of students don’t recognize that we even exist or that we do things on campus.”
One of the ways that Mehmet plans to address this is by adopting new social media tactics.
“We do have enough funds to create a student worker position […] it would pretty much be a social media manager, I think [that] would be the title,” Mehmet said.
The lack of student involvement has had a clear impact on the presidential election this year, as Mehmet ran uncontested.
“I really couldn’t tell you [why]. I was expecting a very contested race […] I think the last uncontested race was three years ago […] I think SGA has always kind of dealt with that issue of people just don’t know we exist and don’t know that we do things on campus, and I’d like to share with the university and UIS students that we do a lot and hopefully that we’re benefiting the students,” Mehmet said.
The new president also plans to make aspects of SGA more accessible to students, namely the Student Organization Funding Association (SOFA). Currently, organizations must submit a request form to the committee, and then appear in front of the board to explain why they need the funding. This, Mehmet believes, is prohibitively inconvenient.
“I think we have the resources and tools available to us to move all of SOFA’s work online, and I think that’s just going to make it easier for students to request money and have great things on campus. I think that will greatly increase student involvement.”
Mehmet believes that he can accomplish all of these goals next year when SGA begins meeting again. Wasting no time, however, SGA’s last meeting on May 1 included resolutions for creating a student employment task force and a petition against Friday classes.