North Texas Daily

Outgoing SGA President, Vice President reflect on their administration

Outgoing SGA President, Vice President reflect on their administration

Outgoing SGA President, Vice President reflect on their administration
April 23
13:29 2020

As the academic year comes to a close, the Student Government Association is wrapping up its current administration and getting ready for the next. The North Texas Daily contacted outgoing President Yolian Ogbu and Vice President Deana Ayers to see how they are reflecting on their time as student leaders.

How are you feeling about your administration coming to an end?

Ogbu: It’s kind of bittersweet. I’m excited for Michael and Cam to start pretty soon. But I’m also really reflecting on this past year and yeah, I think bittersweet is the word.

Ayers: I think it was a really interesting experience. I just wish that we could have done more. It seems like the end of the semester came up really fast and we had a lot of plans about what we wanted to accomplish and how we wanted to serve students who didn’t really get seen through.

Are there any last-minute projects you all are working on?

Ogbu: I think the biggest thing is just getting the data from the student living survey. Probably by the end of this month is the goal. That’s what our team is focusing on just so students have that reference as it pertains to on-campus and off-campus housing. But outside of that, I think mostly it’s just wrapping up. I think we’re just working on transition materials and getting ready to just make sure the next administration is starting off on the right foot.

Ayers: As far as I’m aware, we’re just working on transition materials. We don’t have any specific projects or initiatives we’re continuing to work on.

Yolian Ogbu, president of the Student Government Association, poses in front of a mural in the University Union on Nov. 15, 2019. Image by Samuel Gomez

What would you say is one of the greatest things you were able to accomplish during your administration?

Ogbu: I’m most proud of our entire campus coming together and really pressuring this entire school and having a conversation on diversity, inclusion and our students of color and our marginalized students and what their experiences are like on campus.

Whether it’s from the events in November or even the aftermath, I would say we changed a lot of perspectives on how important it is to just constantly be talking about how different communities are treated. I’m really proud of the effort, and the price of us prioritizing these tough conversations. I think we changed the campus for the better as a result.

Ayers: I was only Vice President for this semester, so I didn’t really get to do too much in my position. I think working with just making senators feel heard and helping them write some legislation and work on stuff even though this semester got really thrown off. I think that’s what I was most proud of.

Is there anything you would do differently now?

Ogbu: I think hindsight is always 20-20 in terms of looking back and seeing there should always be things that any person in a leadership position could have done differently. I think I have my fair share in prioritizing certain projects, and collaborating with other organizations and things like that. I think I had a lot of things that I learned as a result.

Either way, it kind of went the way that it did and we still made an impact.I’m not necessarily regretting anything, but of course, I think there are a lot of things that I could have been like ‘yeah I think I could have gone about a certain way.’ I think my team and I and anyone in SGA can take a lot from what happened this year and reflect on how we can do better as student leaders as an [organization].

Ayers: I definitely would put more of my focus into communication with senators and the general student body. I definitely wanted to have more legislation that was written by students, and we definitely had some starts, but I think putting more effort into educating not just senators but the student body about how legislation is written, what powers they have, and what all legislation encompasses.

Deana Ayers speaks to students about community alternatives to calling the police on Feb. 18, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

What’s the most important thing you learned during your time as President/Vice President?

Ogbu: I feel like student leaders have to constantly pressure certain things like happen if they want something to be done. With everything that happened in November, that was a really big moment that I think mobilized a lot of students outside of and in SGA.

And I think there was that momentum for a few weeks, but then it kind of died out afterward, and that’s what happens with all big moments. But none of the things that could be accomplished in the realm of diversity inclusion could have happened unless we continued pressuring and continued this conversation.

Following through is something that I found to be so important. You could have great ideas and you could have some initiative that you want to do but the follow-through is what’s really going to make it happen.

Having a team of onboard for that is also really important. Something that I learned is building relationships with the people around you is really important. Having a strong team is so important to have anything done.

Something really big that I learned was you’re just as strong as your weakest player on a team. Unless everyone is on the same page about an idea or an initiative, it gets pretty hard to have something done. I think the team that we have now has gone through so many changes, but still has been able to get so much done and that’s because they are all strong players and they’ve all been committed to the mission of SGA and the work we set out to do at the beginning of the year. You cannot do all of the things that you want to do alone as one leader.

Ayers: I think SGA is a vehicle for change rather than the end-all, be-all. I thought that being vice president would mean automatically I would be able to do all these things. But in SGA you need to have a mission and a vision of what you want to accomplish and then use your position and the organization to accomplish that goal.

How do you want your administration to be remembered?

Ogbu: I would like this administration to be remembered as the group that reminded students how powerful they are. We’ve had our fair share of events that happened this year, whether it’s from racial slurs being thrown at students in the fall semester to COVID now, so many things have happened this year.

I would love for everyone to remember that this was the year that I think students recognize that using SGA as a platform is so important and so valuable to creating the change that you want to see. I think we brought in a lot of new faces and we brought in a lot of people that never really thought about SGA before and now they’re interested because they saw the work that was being done.

We really started a tough conversation on really tough topics and I think that’s the biggest thing you need to remember for us. Students have a lot of power to get things done.

Ayers: I want us to be remembered as being loud and pushing the boundaries of what people thought the SGA could be because I think that’s the biggest thing that people notice. SGA doesn’t have to be very respectability-oriented.

You can say the things that you need to say and do through SGA. So I hope when people look back, they see that we tried to do that and we tried to use our voices for the things that were important.

What’s one piece of advice you have for the incoming administration?

Ogbu: At the beginning of your administration, already have lined up what you want the impact of your administration to be. Have an idea of what the finish line should look like. I just remember the beginning of our administration, we had so many ideas and we didn’t realize that one year is such a short amount of time to get these things done.

Time goes by so quickly. Before you know it, it’ll be the end of the year. The biggest thing is to just be cognizant of how long you have in office and use this time to just maximize your time as much as possible and remember it’s all about the legacy that you leave. It is really important how many people you’ve impacted.

Ayers: I would say don’t get caught up in the little things. I’m just focused on listening to what students want and then doing that. So not doing any ego-tripping or focusing on yourself. The platform that you made is for the students, so just always be centering what students want, what students need and how you can make that happen.

What will you be doing next?

Ogbu: Usually SGA presidents are seniors so they would be graduating, but I’m actually graduating in December, so it’s a weird thing. I’m here for another semester and I think the goal is obviously just to finish stuff out.

I’m applying for some fellowships. I’m just trying to become a normal student, finish out the rest of my senior semester and enjoy it. I’m thinking of going back to just being a member of an [organization] … I would like to get more involved with the Black Student Union my last semester because that’s become my passion: advocating for students of color. I think my very last thing is seeing that as a student I want to continue following up on the demands made in November.

Ayers: I’m graduating in May, so everything’s kind of up in the air for me because of all the COVID-19 stuff. I’m hoping to get into a job that focuses on things like political education or maybe reproductive justice. But it’s a very big question mark.

Featured Image: SGA President Yolian Ogbu speaks at the Presidential Town Hall on Jan. 28, 2020 in the Union Lyceum. The topics for discussion included equity, diversity and civility. Image by Paige Bruneman

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Brooke Colombo

Brooke Colombo

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