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SGA breaks its promises every single year

The Student Government Association is one of the most essential organizations at Georgia State. They make up the “Big Three,” along with Spotlight and The Signal, which only proves the fundamental importance of the Student Government. As with any political entity, there are promises kept and promises broken; with SGA, it’s more of the latter. As a former member of the organization, I have first-hand knowledge of why this happens seemingly every year.

To be clear, it’s not really their fault; it’s the nature of the situation in which they often find themselves, a situation common to many people in student organizations. They are students, and sometimes, it’s easy to forget that they are students, primarily when they work on university-wide or even city- or statewide changes like SGA does, but it’s a reality they all face at some point. 

Some have to be removed because their GPA isn’t up to par. Others have to choose between going to class and going to a meeting. And for some students, it’s a battle to run from work, change and be in the office for their committee meeting.

Ayn Rand Conference 2019

SGA members have to juggle a lot, and it’s that juggling that leads to SGA’s numerous shortcomings. Something that former SGA University-Wide President Franklin Paterson and former SGA Arts and Sciences Senator Spencer Bivins reiterated last year was “Remember Your Why,” that is, “Why did you join SGA? Remember who you do this for.” 

While it was said throughout the year, it really picked up after the classic “mid-semester hump.” This is something a lot of students feel. They grind at the beginning of the semester. They go to every lab and attend every lecture. And then the midterms hit. If you haven’t noticed, classes start thinning out after midterms. 

Now imagine that, coupled with hour-plus long meetings, wearing suits that are too hot for the summer or dresses too cold for the winter. It’s a struggle SGA members regularly face in addition to the stress of adulting and of being in college. And that is one leg knocked over: they are burned out and tired. And it doesn’t help that university politics are the way they are. 

For example, take Financial Aid and Advisement. It seems administration after administration, these two departments are in SGA’s crosshairs. That’s because year after year, hundreds of students are facing problems within the departments, ranging from long lines to entire scholarships going missing. 

And if the ordinary student is having problems, imagine being an SGA senator emailing the director of these departments. I’m willing to bet that they aren’t going to be too keen on helping those who on the low accused them of being incapable of doing their jobs. 

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When the people who call the shots are unwilling to help, it becomes complicated to actually get things done. But, then again, it’s what the voters want. And to add fuel to the fire, when there is an issue that the university and SGA can agree on, oftentimes, the students against it are the most vocal. 

SGA is almost always in a state of battle, and that makes it extremely difficult to get things done. And down comes the second leg: difficulty to just get things done.

The third leg can be anything from laziness, from which some members suffer, to just not precisely knowing what they’re doing but it can all be summarized in one phrase: They are human. 

Senator Nigel Walton and SGA University-Wide President Jazmin Mejia are no different from you or me. They are human. They have relationships, friends, and families that need their attention. 

Whether it’s work or Netflix, sometimes, SGA has to take the back burner. And for some people, SGA is far lower on their priority list than, say, going to Music Midtown. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s up to you to decide. But it’s important to understand that SGA does a lot for us as a student body. 

Even if it’s small things like free scantrons, which is a service that many universities don’t enjoy, SGA really does work for the students. Even if some of the members join SGA only never to be seen again, the organization as a whole does a lot of good. And it doesn’t just stop there. SGA is an advocate for the unspoken in the city of Atlanta. 

Whether it’s about safety or homelessness or sex trafficking, SGA truly is a voice for the students by the students. Even if at times, it gets a little too governmental, some may also call it corrupt. SGA really tries to fight for students’ rights, for human rights. And that’s all we can really ask of them.

 Does SGA fail to meet the vast majority of its goals? Yes. Does SGA feel like a resume filler that doesn’t actually get anything done? Yes. But if we are being fair, it’s not entirely their fault. Frankly, a lot of the time, some members aren’t doing anything because we, as students, haven’t told them about issues we find pressing enough for SGA to address.

Also, let’s be clear: SGA does far more for the students than Georgia State does. Last year, they revamped the Blue Bus stop at the stadium. They advocate and fight for victims of sexual assault. They made the city uncomfortable by speaking up about human trafficking during the Super Bowl. 

They forced the city to review the laws about scooters. They stood along with student protesters as they protested their own meetings. They question long-standing traditions and systems of the university. They make the university uncomfortable because SGA does what the university too often refuses to do: stand by and for their students.