SGA holds first meeting of the semester

Mike Frederiksen
Student Government Association (SGA) meets for the first time this semester to discuss the upcoming events and plans for Western Illinois University.

Kayla Trail

The Student Government Association (SGA) welcomed old faces as well as new faces for their first meeting of the semester.

 SGA Speaker of the Senate, Andrew Mueller began the session by introducing President Dovilė Svirupskaitė to the podium. Svirupskaitė welcomed the meeting by letting students know that she is a resource to all and encourages new and old members to seek her help and advice if needed, as well as laying out the plans for the upcoming semester so members know what to expect.

 “This student government is going to be part of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Council, (IBHE-SAC),” Svirupskaitė said. “It’s this cool thing I found out about, pretty much what we do is we are an advisory group of Illinois Board of Higher Education. As the University, we have two representatives that we can send, I will be one of them and then I opened it up to any of you if you are interested in coming with me and road tripping around the state on the weekends.”

 The IBHE-SAC’s website states that they are “a committee made up of student leaders and students from any college, university, or community college from across Illinois. Our mission is to advocate on behalf of all higher education students in Illinois and strive to ensure that their voices are
represented in state-level discussions of higher educations related issues.”

 Vice President Garret Covington aspires to raise student spirit and to get more fans at home games this semester.

 “My big plan would be just to get more school pride,” Covington said. “I feel like it’s there, it’s a little light, (and) I’m trying to blow it up and make it a big light, more like a spotlight. I’m trying to get people to go nuts and go crazy for Western. To be at all the games and get that passion back, we can get that big time fill into a smaller one, who says we can’t go as hard as the Big Ten in cheering? Getting more students in general involved, let them promote our athletics and get them there. Some people don’t even know when our games are. You look into the crowd, and I hate to say it, but the other team has more fans than us.”

 Student Member to the Board of Trustees Wil Gradle, addressed the meeting by celebrating a small victory of the state of Illinois partially getting a budget.

 “We got half a budget for higher education that will get us through December,” Gradle said. “They also gave us about $5 million for MAP (Monetary Award Program) grant funding. It’s supposed to pay us back for the spring semester but that’s kind of what enabled us to be able to offer the MAP grant again this semester. That is exciting that we got some money, but as you know, that’s not the whole ball game. We still need a full budget from the state of Illinois, but at least it’s progress.”

 Graduate assistant, Abigail Hanson discussed upcoming events on campus, such as the Activities Fair, which will be going on in the Union Grand Ballroom between 3 and 5 p.m. today.

 Hanson also shared that Family Day will be happening on Sept. 10 and Rocky Unleashed will be an eight-week event starting on Sept. 12 and ending on Oct. 31.

 College of Education Human Services Senator Lukas Urbane encouraged students to intern with Democrat John Curtis, who is running for State Representative, while Attorney General Aaron Terrile encouraged students to intern with Republican Norine Hammond, who is also running for State Representative.

 After reports were made, the meeting moved into new business, where seven SGA Presidential Bill of Appointments were passed unanimously, which included Svirupskaitė selecting
new members for her cabinet.

 “I’m very excited,” Svirupskaitė said. “I have a really good group of people. I tried to pick students from all over the University and pull them from different backgrounds. That’s what I was envisioning for my cabinet and that’s exactly what I got: super hard working and they’ve all impressed me so much already and it’s the second week of school.”

 Svirupskaitė is also finding ways to integrate students with the community of Macomb as a whole by creating a mayor’s roundtable with Mayor Mike Inman.

 “Students will have a place to go and talk to the mayor about student issues and he can bring community issues to them,” Svirupskaitė said. “(Inman) can hear their input, because we make up such a large population of the community. I thought it would be a cool way for us to interact and for students to meet the mayor. He’s really great and I know he’ll listen.”
Svirupskaitė and Terrile will be working on rewriting parts of the SGA constitution this semester.

 “Some of it is really outdated,” Svirupskaitė said. “There are just some things, like for example the Director of Student Services, in the past, that position would have a gala that they would put on. It’s just one of those things that hasn’t been done in so long, we can find a new responsibility.”

 Overall, Svirupskaitė wants students to feel welcomed when it comes to learning more about SGA and participating in events on campus as well as joining committees.

 “I feel like students feel that SGA is a far organization that they can never get involved in,” Svirupskaitė said. “So today is the Activities Fair, so we’re hoping to pull as many students as we can, new freshmen that are super excited to join something. We have 40 committees we can fill, so I’m hoping to get students involved in that and kind of sparking their passion for student government, so hopefully they can join in years to come as a senator.”