SGA presents State of the Student: Speakers answer to why they stay at Western

Nicholas Ebelhack, editor-in-chief

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The Student Government Association hosted their third annual State of the Student address in the Sherman Hall Auditorium Tuesday afternoon, focusing on the issue of “why we stay,” at Western Illinois University.

Pamphlets were handed out with pictures of students and their experiences at Western to emphasize the focus of the address. SGA President and President elect for 2018-2019 Grant Reed and Student Member to the Board of Trustees Wil Gradle both shared reasons for why they chose to stay at Western in their individual speeches.

“I stayed for the administrative leadership that had made difficult choices that keep us moving forward,” Gradle said. “I stayed because as a second generation Leatherneck, I wanted to do my part to make this place better for future students.”

In his remarks, Gradle spoke predominantly on how progress can be achieved at Western while the school faces challenges, including recovering a state budget impasse that lasted over two years and being in the midst of prolonged contract negotiations and declining enrollment.

“I wholeheartedly believe that our people keep us moving forward,” Gradle said. “But I believe with equal fervor that our greatest liabilities to the university are those who are dead set on holding us back. I understand that it is uncomfortable to talk about the challenges that lay before us, but progress demands it of us.

“It requires restraint, and a willingness to support institutional goals rather than personal ones.”

Reed followed Gradle’s remarks by updating the university on SGA’s accomplishments and goals from the last year from his cabinet.

“We have began conducting end of the semester goal assessments,” Reed said. “Each cabinet member sat down with me before winter break and identified their individual goals in three main areas, developmental, professional and personal.”

From this, the cabinet worked to find areas in which the organization could improve upon in coming semesters.

“Our five goal groups are team building and bonding, increased SGA awareness, constitution and job descriptions, the SGA transition process and the diversity of the organization,” Reed said. “In these smaller groups they have been working on developing plans of action to accomplish these goals, and have been having active meetings and have been working very well together outside of SGA.”

Reed also highlighted programming from the last year, such as the “lunchtime with leaders” initiative. While he admitted the event drew few students, he said those who did show stood for what SGA intended.

“The conversation was plentiful,” Reed said. “It stood as a symbol to our students, that at Western Illinois University, you are so much more than just a number. You have a voice and your voice matters.”

He also spoke on the Mayor’s Roundtable, an effort to connect Western students with the Macomb community through Mayor Mike Inman.

 “No questions too simple, no questions too complex, nothing to hide, nothing to shy away from, just brilliant discussion on how to work together.”

In his closing statement, Reed spoke on why he has chosen to stay at Western, citing the university’s affordability and programming as reasons for him to come in the first place.

“I came to Western for so many reasons, but I stayed because of the people. WIU is my home and my heart, as I know it is for all of you.” Reed said. “As we move forward, may we recognize the people around us a little more, appreciate one another, and remember that we are blessed to wake up everyday as a member of this Leatherneck family.”

Gradle closed his remarks with what he believed the stateof the student to be. He shared that he believes that students are looking forward to change and stability in the future.

“The state of the student is hopeful,” Gradle said. “Hopeful for a better, and stronger and more ambitious tomorrow. Hopeful that leaders of each governance and negotiating group can work together with university leadership to put forth an institution with breadth and expertise to prepare the leaders of tomorrow.”

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