Opinion: Though Classes Have Moved Online, DePaul&...

Opinion: Though Classes Have Moved Online, DePaul’s SGA Continues to Serve Students

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of the 14 East editorial staff

Since October 4, 2017, the day I was elected to serve as the Senator for First Year Students, the Student Government Association (SGA) has been a formative part of my DePaul experience. Today, I’m lucky to serve as the President of your SGA. Between then and now, I’ve witnessed the power we students have when we organize around a cause.

You might wonder the same thing people tend to ask me: What does SGA actually do? And why is it important? What has SGA accomplished so far this year?

SGA is important because we represent all DePaul students. This means we work on campus issues you care about, like diversity and equity initiatives at DePaul, and we push for the changes you want, like the expansion of on-campus resources or the ability to use dining plan money to purchase Black hair care products. We can do these things partly because we serve on over 20 university committees, ranging from the Speaker Review to the Dean Review committees.

A recent example of this is what we are doing during the COVID-19 health crisis that has completely changed the personal and academic lives of students for the foreseeable future. Currently, SGA is working hard to serve students at DePaul during the COVID-19 crisis our community is facing. We remain a resource for all students and we are here to listen and take action based on the needs of the students during this difficult time. I am also representing students on the university COVID-19 Task Force and advocating for students daily.

Another example of why SGA is important is that the President (hi, that’s me again) serves as a member of the Joint Council, which includes the executives, deans, vice presidents and the presidents of the Faculty and Staff councils. The Joint Council brings together people from all around the university to talk about campus initiatives. As a member of the Joint Council, I bring the student voice to the forefront of these important conversations.

In addition to the Joint Council and the COVID-19 Task Force, I sit on the Tuition Pricing Committee, Policy Review Group, University Athletics Board, Strategic Resource and Allocation Committee and I am a guest on the Board of Trustees. Yes, that’s a lot, but don’t worry: I have a color-coded Google Calendar. 

Everything I do in these committees is on behalf of you, DePaul’s student body — that’s why SGA is important. I have conversations with students, and I bring their perspectives to the table at these meetings. 

How SGA ensures it represents the student body

This year, SGA has 33 amazing student leaders representing the student body, with every senatorial position being filled except for one. This means we have more perspectives at the table, and as a group we are collectively able to do more outreach to the student body.

Photo Courtesy of DePaul’s SGA

SGA even has rules to ensure we interact with students regularly. Every member of SGA is required to attend at least three events open to the entire DePaul community per quarter. In order to even get on the ballot, my Vice-President, Landon Campbell, and I talked to students until we convinced 250 to sign our petition. 

This outreach has given SGA many ideas and initiatives which shows that everything we do is for the students. The menstrual products initiative in which we brought free menstrual products to every women’s and gender-neutral bathroom was an idea that came out of student conversations when I was campaigning for President. I listened intently to students when they shared what they would like to see from SGA, and took action.

The SGA works hard to actively seek out students’ perspectives so we can properly represent you. We do this by holding weekly meetings open to every student at DePaul, and by using our social media to let students send feedback or concerns.

This year, we’ve expanded these efforts through events like the SGA Student Forum, an event we hosted in February that brought more than 50 students together to have important conversations around the changes we want for DePaul. We heard from students that they want us to work on initiatives related to safety, the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and accessibility of gender-neutral bathrooms.

Mashall Jahangir, SGA

The issues we work on are all important and impact the everyday lives of students at DePaul. Just this academic year, we brought free menstrual products to campus restrooms, Black hair-care products to Lincoln Park’s ETC shop and we created an SGA committee for mental health. We’re always looking for where the next improvement can be made.

What can you do?

I challenge anyone reading this to run for SGA office, collaborate with us or simply come to an SGA meeting. You can run for an elected position during our autumn and spring elections.  If you do, you’ll see a group of passionate students who have dedicated their time to represent your voice and fight for you. I will always be grateful to be counted among them. Election materials and information will be available on Monday, April 20 on our DeHUB page. Elections will take place beginning on May 11 at 9 a.m. through May 14 at noon.

Don’t want to run for office? You can get involved by coming to our meetings every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. over Zoom. The link to our Zoom call will be listed in our social media bio and on our DeHUB event every week. We also created a form on our DeHUB where you can submit feedback or give us your input on anything you would like us to work on. Follow us on social media, @depaulsga, and check out our website to keep up with things we’re working on, and to get election materials when they’re released. 

We know the COVID-19 health crisis has upended the lives of nearly every member of our student body. For updates related to the novel coronavirus, visit the COVID-19 Resource Page.DePaul Counseling Services is also still providing services in a remote manner during this time if you would like to speak with someone. You can also fill out this form on our DeHUB to share with SGA what you would like us to work on in relation to the virus. 

Related story: Meet Your Student Government Representatives

Header image by Mashall Jahangir