By Alex Eng, news staff
The Student Government Association (SGA) discussed its ambitions to improve student relations during a press conference held on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
SGA Executive Board members sat down with The News in the SGA Senate Chambers to explain their plans to step up student group outreach, recognize student leadership and target specific issues that students and student groups face around campus.
Akeira Gilbert, the SGA’s executive director of communications, described targeted student organization outreach, which is designed to give underrepresented groups a voice.
“Each month, we are highlighting up to three student organizations, and we are correlating them with national awareness or heritage months,” Gilbert, a junior human services major, said.
In September, the SGA highlighted Behind the Smile, Interpreting Club and the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) for National Suicide Awareness Month, Deaf Awareness Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, respectively.
The purpose of this type of outreach—giving underrepresented groups a voice—is the same goal behind the SGA’s new monthly initiatives, a practice that is being revived in order to frame Senate meetings with specific goals.
“Monthly initiatives started with the concept of starting to reframe the conversation from ‘What’s wrong on campus?’ to ‘What’s wrong about a certain aspect of campus life?’” said SGA Vice President Suchira Sharma.
Sharma, a third-year international business major, said that opening this new type of specific dialogue would lead to more specific action.
“We found that by leading those intentional discussions, we are able to find key points and projects and initiatives that our cabinet members, committee members and senators who are really passionate can take on and enact that change throughout the course of the year,” she said.
This month, dubbed ‘OUTober’, has directed the SGA’s efforts toward highlighting LGBTQA+ identities and intersectionality at Northeastern. On Sunday, Oct. 2, the SGA held an OUTober event in the Curry Student Center Ballroom, where LGBTQA+ and cultural groups met with the SGA to discuss the challenges that students grappling with identity faced at Northeastern.
“We discussed which parts of each person’s identity that students felt that Northeastern and student government had championed in the past, and which ones had kind of fell flat,” said Gilbert.
According to Gilbert, concerns raised included the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms and a lack of sufficient resources for students who needed help in wake of recent tragedies, like police shootings.
The SGA also plans to begin its Student Leadership Access Awards, in which it will partner with the Office of Alumni Relations to recognize 12 students per year for being of exceptional value to the Northeastern community.
According to SGA President Elliot Horen, the award will be given to student leaders for the work they do that directly benefits Northeastern or makes this campus a better place to be.
Horen, a junior information science and business administration major, said the SGA Cabinet will use the award to honor successes that affect the school’s community.
“While individual contributions or accomplishments are wonderful and certainly deserve celebration, this is about work that students do to benefit other students in the Northeastern community,” he said.
Each $500 award will be funded by the Office of Alumni Relations and the SGA’s own fundraising efforts. The purpose is to give not only recognition but also financial aid to hardworking students who have had to make sacrifices, such as trading off hours with a part-time job, to better the Northeastern community.
More details on the award will be released in mid-October as the SGA Cabinet finishes its planning for this initiative, Horen said. As of now, anyone can be nominated, and individuals can apply for themselves as well.
Judgement will be conducted by the SGA Cabinet with some input from alumni, but it would remain an award by students and for students, Horen said.
“For all those nights they spend on campus […] this award can help and say, ‘The work you do on campus is really valued by not just the administration but by your fellow students,’” he said.
Photo courtesy SGA
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Elliot Horen as a senior.