This year has changed how everything on campus has operated. An organization that has heavily felt the impact of COVID-19 is the Student Government Association (SGA). In previous years, SGA has made itself as available and transparent to the student body as possible. As the representative body for the students at UIS, the organization has fulfilled its constitutional duty to “promote a democratic form of student government, to provide students a forum for student issues, to offer the opportunity for leadership development in the individual, and to promote social, cultural, educational, and recreational activities for students of the University of Illinois Springfield.” While this year has not gone as planned, SGA has worked hard to continue representing the student body along with promoting activities and forums for the students at UIS.
SGA has worked on multiple projects this semester, even though it has been hard to step into the spotlight with COVID-19 regulations. President Aislinn Diaz acknowledged the hard work that SGA underwent to ensure that students could return to campus and remain safe while on grounds, such as promoting the United in Safety pledge encouraging students to follow the COVID-19 guidelines. Diaz was also proud to mention another project worked on by College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Antone Evans, who has been working on the TEDx series that will be brought to UIS. President Diaz said that the event “will open up an opportunity for the UIS community at large to have the opportunity to listen and participate in TED talks.”
When asked about what important topics SGA has covered this semester, Internal Vice President Collin Moseley suggested the Internal Affairs Committee as a whole. Internal Vice President Moseley is the chair of this committee, which has covered many topics. He said that he is impressed by the work of this committee, “[w]hether it be related to COVID-19 policies, or general services such as food service and campus programing. Being composed of senators of various constituencies, the committee has worked quite hard to ensure that student concerns and voices are always raised, even if the outcome of the university decisions does not reflect them.”
External Vice President Nolan Flaherty also had remarkable things to say about his own committee, the External Affairs Committee, specifically the project they have been working on with the Office of Advancement. External Vice President Flaherty stated: “In collaboration with this office, we are leading a project to identify student, faculty, and staff needs on campus. In the time of this pandemic [in which] funds and donations are running low, we thought it was necessary to attempt to ensure that our donor money was being directed to the causes that our UIS community needs most.” Overall, the goal of this project in the External Affairs Committee is to make sure that donor funds go where needed and that there are tangible improvements on campus.
From a system-wide perspective, Austin Verthein, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees member, pointed out the hard work the U of I system has done to protect the students with SHIELD technology, the saliva based COVID-19 testing. BOT Verthein mentioned: “With the University of Illinois System’s financial support, UIS students, faculty and staff were able to access simple and easy tests free of costs… The University of Illinois System became the nationwide model within higher education of how to regulate and monitor cases on campus, providing students with quick results, a sense of safety on campus, and a glimmer of hope to the normalcy we all so desire.”
SGA has still been working hard on behalf of the students at UIS, even if it is not always visible with everything being done remotely. Each member of SGA has been working hard to represent their constituencies through different projects and representing students on Campus Senate committees. The work is far from done, with the Spring 2021 semester quickly approaching, but SGA deserves recognition for the hard work its members have put in during this tumultuous year.