February is often flooded with Azusa Pacific University students’ applications for studying abroad, getting involved in leadership positions or working on campus the following fall. For the Student Government Association, this is not just a time of preparation for the following year, but of reflecting and focusing on the projects to finish out the term.
These are the projects SGA has worked on over the last semester, including ones now unfolding:
The Discretionary Fund
One major development by SGA this year was the Discretionary Fund. Currently going through its trial semester, the fund was created to give on-campus clubs and ethnic organizations the opportunity to apply for extra funding for projects and educational purposes.
“[SGA] allocated an extra $4,000 into this fund and set up an application program for the ethnic orgs and clubs on campus to use this fund because they currently do not receive a lot of funding,” SGA Controller Will Levegood said.
The fund was the brainchild of Levegood and President Brian Jessup.
“Ethnic orgs have already contacted us and they’re stoked to have opportunities to use the budget,” Levegood said. “We’ve limited it to just clubs and orgs, we’ve put a price limit on it and we’re attempting to make it sustainable for next year and [the] next year. … It’s offered, but it’s not set in stone, ‘You will receive this money.’ It’s on a first-come, first-serve basis. Plan ahead. There’s still an application process online and a meeting with the financial committee.”
Speaking into GE Requirement Changes
The university has been discussing and planning changes in general-education requirements. Throughout the process, SGA has been present in meetings and discussions serving as a voice for the student body.
“We’ve agreed with a lot of changes, but there are some we’ve questioned,” Speaker of the House Meredith Fann said. “They’re looking to add another writing course, and we don’t all think that another writing course would be necessary if we made our already-existing courses more rigorous.”
The added class is only an idea currently being examined and is not finalized. Final GE requirement changes are still in the works, but SGA is actively involved in the conversations continuing to unfold.
“Our influence over the general-education curriculum change conversation has been significant,” Jessup said.
The Student Summit
In March, SGA will be hosting its Student Summit focused on finances, a conversation not held on campus for several years.
“We are hoping to bring in an administrative panel of people who understand just what the APU financial budget looks like,” Fann said. “What we’ve come to realize is a lot of students don’t know where their money is going and don’t understand what their tuition is being used for. … People don’t understand why tuition goes up every year, so we are hoping to shed light on what APU’s budget looks like and have a time for students to ask questions.”
The committee working on the Student Summit will be hosting Cougar Walk Talks in the upcoming weeks to hear students’ questions about finances. According to Fann, all questions and student stories submitted will be made anonymous so that no one feels “singled out” by information shared.
The SGA Survey
Each year, the SGA vice president puts together a survey used to communicate students’ feedback to administration, the board of trustees, faculty and staff.
“The SGA survey is a very valuable tool … that we are able to use to evaluate students’ experiences and feedback on a more holistic level. For example, Dillon Recreational Complex is the result of consistent [survey] feedback reiterating student needs for more recreational space,” Ferrer said.
The group aims for a higher response rate this year and is looking into ways to motivate student participation in the survey. Members have also added new questions to evaluate the campus climate.
The Table and Vision
SGA creates a vision statement each year and chooses a focus. According to Jessup, this year was very focused on listening.
“It’s been interesting to really respond to things in SGA versus react this year. I think at the end of the day we just want to be more present and for people to know what SGA does versus just to be known,” Ferrer said.
Another major focus has been “community and cultural definition and influence,” according to Jessup.
“We’ve been really looking at facilitating a community that, one, realizes its potential of what it could be. Two, that realizes that potential comes out of us working together as a student body and a university, and three, that the way we do that is kind of learning to listen to one another in a different way,” Jessup said. “What came out of that was The Table.”
The Table, an event facilitating student conversations with faculty, is scheduled to come back in April to close the school year.
For more information on SGA, events or anything mentioned above contact the office or visit its website at www.apusga.org.