SGA President, Vice President discuss the future of Student Government

How many members are in SGA?

Dan Costello: Well, it ranges. There are 10 on the executive board, but we recently changed our constitution so there will be eight. Then, we have 20 senator-at-large positions, and four for each class, which makes about 44 senator positions. If we don’t have enough people to fill the positions, we can appoint people to be on the senate, which happens throughout the year. People also step down if they can’t make the commitment anymore. The numbers fluctuate – it’s anywhere between 30 and 40 throughout the year.

How many freshmen did you have this year?

Costello: We had a solid number. We had a fairly good turnout for the fall elections, and had 12 people run. We have five right now, but throughout the year we had nine.

What are your future plans?

Costello: So I’ll be graduating, but personally, as the outgoing president, I’d like to see SGA maintain a friendly profile of service, of working with the clubs and organizations. … I think that can be a challenge from year to year, and people don’t always stay in SILD or SGA. You have new leaderships and eBoards every year. But I think we’ve improved in many ways in the past few years I’ve been on SGA.

Ezequiel De Leon: I feel like SGA should really increase our exposure to the campus – our approachability and our availability. We want students to feel like they can come to SGA and know what they can come to SGA for. We want students to know we are a resource for them to use, so they can use us properly.

How does a hierarchy help SGA’s effectiveness?

Costello: I think it helps with the organization process. We have a lot of moving pieces going on. We have the eBoard and the general board all planning one event at the same time. … The president oversees it, and we meet once a week at our eBoard meetings and discuss what is going on, and then they talk to the senate. For example, we have the Social Event Chair and the Social Event Committee, who plan the banquet we have each year. … It takes the whole year to plan it, and a lot of work goes into it. Another example is the funding. We fund everyone, and we have one person who just handles the student activities trust fund. They’re keeping track of the SGA expenditures, but also the money we’re allocating. There’s just a lot going on, a lot of different projects we’re working on, but we come together and discuss it as a group.

What does SGA have the ability to do, and what does it not have the ability to do?

Costello: A lot of people think we only give out money. And that is a major aspect, because that is the service a lot of clubs come and ask us for. So we allocate money, and the purpose of us allocating money is us bettering student life on campus. … The clubs and organizations come up with all the ideas – we’re just managing the money and making sure it’s being spent wisely. We allow new clubs to form, we approve or deny their constitutions and we contribute to that active student involvement on campus. We also take the initiative with some events on campus, like Zeke planned the White Ribbon Campaign.

De Leon: I made it into a whole week about ending sexual assault on college campuses, because that’s a big concern on college campuses and on our campus. Some senators and I took the time to make sure it was being heard on campus. … If someone asks me what SGA is, I want to say we’re a supportive entity. We don’t really plan events – we’re not SUAB. We’re here to give financial support. We’re also supportive for the entire student body. We’re the link between the students and the administration.

Costello: We’re not just about writing checks. We’re also looking at, “What do students need?”

Why should students join SGA?

Costello: I would say it’s fun. A lot of people wouldn’t – working with money, parliamentary rules – a lot of people think that’s not fun. Even the more fun things we do, like the banquet and Week of Kindness, those more fun initiatives that we put on, there’s a lot of groundwork to do. … That’s why I’ve done it for the past four years – you work with so many different people and you just learn so much.

De Leon: You work with all the clubs. You take a look at the list of clubs – there are so many different interests there. So many academic disciplines. You work with them all. It’s just such a variety, diversity of groups of students that you’re working with. It’s just a lot of fun. Never the same day twice. … We exist to provide for the students, to be representation for the students. … We want to be able to advocate for our peers and make sure our needs are being met. I feel like that’s a large reason a lot of us are a part of the organization.