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The Future of SGA: Elevate Coalition Wins Election in Landslide

By Mason Edwards, News Editor

Graphic made by Taylor McKinley, University Echo Social Media and Advertising Manager

On April 1, a new wave of Student Government Association executives and senators were announced via a campus email. The Elevate coalition with President Jordan Fall, Vice President Rachel Schreur and Treasurer Curel Jones won in an election uncontested by another coalition.

The most ballots collected totaled 259 votes for President Jordan Fall; meanwhile, write-in candidates received at most 9% of the total ballots. The previous coalition, Evolve, decided not to run for a second term. While the Elevate executives acknowledged the lack of competition made their campaigns easier, each wanted to see more involvement from the UTC student body. Jones explained that the victory was bittersweet.

“I’m happy because I think what we stand for in our coalition connects with a lot of different students, so they want to see us win,” Jones said. “But then the sad thing is that I don't really think that other students understand how important these roles are and how prominent is it for the entire student body.”

Elevate as a coalition stands for amplifying the already-spoken voices of students, and one of their primary goals next year is to improve engagement in SGA. Hopefully, Jones reasoned, they can prove the importance of their positions through a successful year, thereby inspiring a new cohort of students for the next election. Still, Fall felt excited about the students who are participating.

“I think with our government, the people I've met so far, that's been like in the coalition, they're very outspoken about prominent issues here on campus,” Jones said. “And they're not shy about it. I think that's something I would say that our past governments have had, but it's more so that they're ready to go ahead and implement these changes."

The newly elected executive board has fresh ideas and topics they want to address. Understanding that students rarely read emails, they want to turn their attention to organizational and word-of-mouth outreach. One of their main goals is to increase engagement between SGA and all other student clubs and organizations by inviting liaisons who facilitate conversations from their communities to student government. 

“I'm really hoping for an SGA renaissance here in terms of just connecting with other organizations, connecting with the organizations that we're already parts of,” Schreur said. “And it’s just like we’re a couple steps away.”

Each executive– Fall, Schreur and Jones– has ties to different campus communities thanks to their early and active involvement on campus, and they want to leverage those connections to hear more student voices and their individual experiences to solve more problems.

“We have a New Greek Life steering committee to strengthen our ties with Greek life,” Fall said. “And I also think creating relationships with other prominent organizations on campus like BSA, RSA, HOLA and other organizations like that, making sure that we're working together because we go to the same university, we have the same issues.”

As the previous chairman of Student Affairs and Academic Success, Fall felt inspired to run after listening to students’ concerns. For example, he wants to ask for the meal exchange amount– still $7– to increase with the rising food costs across campus.

As a resident assistant, Jones spoke about her housing concerns. She’s heard from other senators and residents who want to continue studying at UTC, but they don’t know where they’ll live next year.

“I don't think administrators kind of get that sense of the urgency that we do not have spaces,” Jones said. “And I understand they want to expand our student body and have people come in, but I don't think their focus is on the current students.”

Certain issues, they explained, should be a collaborative effort between the UTC administration, staff and students. Schreur remembered how SGA hosted a panel event with Assistant Director of Parking Services David Siedel, where students learned about the limitations Parking Services tries to work around in their regular operations.

According to Fall, there should be educational conversations based on understanding before action.

“I think a lot of people fall into the pitfall of really wanting to put it onto the students to sort of search for the information that they need,” Fall said. “I think as long as students accurately hear from the right people of why these things are happening, there could be just a little bit more understanding and more of an ability to work with each other.”

Fans of free food and events will be happy to learn that Elevate is not only committed to helping students with problems, but they also want to actively make campus a fun and engaging place. Such events can spread awareness or help students navigate diversity.

“I think the first thing and the most obvious thing that events when they came to community is just really making campus feel fun as a whole,” Fall said. “But in addition to that, I think a lot of the events sort of have a sub-level to them that if you really look into it, you can educate yourself on the purpose of that event.”

The electees spoke highly of their connection to previous coalition governments, and they want to continue some of the work left off. Evolve coalition president Chamyra Teasley said that her next steps will be helping the new leadership settle into their roles.

No SGA funds were used for marketing in the election, Fall added. There is a $1,000 limit for marketing spending, but that comes from their personal wallets. The Future of SGA: Elevate Coalition Wins Election in Landslide

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