North Texas Daily

SGA implements staff changes, connects with administration

SGA implements staff changes, connects with administration

SGA implements staff changes, connects with administration
October 27
14:30 2022

The Student Government Association was busy over the summer and into the fall semester as Jermaine “JT” Turner and Aalyhia Shillow stepped into their new roles as president and vice president. 

The Turner and Shillow administration started at the beginning of the summer semester, and Turner said one of their main goals was to restructure the executive branch to meet their goals and initiatives for the upcoming school year.

Among the changes were the elimination of the diversity and inclusion officer and the addition of three new positions: director of leadership and development, director of special projects and initiatives and a human resources role. 

After this first step, the team prioritized meeting with the administration. This included the Vice President of Student Affairs Elizabeth With, Chief Financial Officer Clayton Gibson, President Neal Smatresk and more, Turner said. 

“We really focused on grounding ourselves and meeting with admin,” Turner said. “We met with over 15 departments and basically gave them our strategic platform and initial platform we ran on. We’re really focusing on making sure these departments know what we’re trying to do.”

The strategy includes plans such as a $15 minimum wage for student workers, the relocation of the Condom Club machine to a more discreet location and making sure students have adequate parking, Turner said. 

SGA held its first senate meeting of the fall semester on Sept. 7 and passed the first piece of legislation on Sept. 28. F2022-R1, “Community Mental Health Resources,” was written by College of Information Senator Peyton McFarlain and seeks to improve mental health resources for students on campus.

Several resources are outdated or limited in their services, and the goal is to have a cohesive and regularly updated website where students can easily access all of the university’s mental health resources. 

“I really like this bill and think it provides a baseline for UNT to be able to repair what’s already kind of been fractured in regards to mental health resources on campus,” College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senator Kaylen Ruiz said in the Sept. 28 meeting. “I know a lot of students — and a lot of my constituents have been speaking about this with me — about how they’re unable to access mental health resources effectively. I think Peyton did an amazing job at being able to find something that is very crucial and important to our student community.”

The legislation was passed in a unanimous vote. 

At the Oct. 5 senate meeting, With appeared as a guest speaker and ensured students’ voices would be heard and represented throughout the year. 

“It’s important that the student voice is heard and that it collectively comes through you all,” With said. “I believe very much in the power of shared governance and that includes not just what the faculty think, not just what the staff think, but, most importantly, what the students think.”

There are several upcoming events in the works for SGA, including a safe sex week prior to Homecoming and a full week of career-based events and career fairs later in the spring. 

“The week before Homecoming we’re doing a safe sex week, which we’re really excited about,” Turner said. “We will give out condoms and Plan Bs and just kind of educate everybody before Homecoming because it can be very wild and very overwhelming, and we want to make sure everybody knows about their safe sex practices.”

Turner said SGA has over 100 members, which is the most he’s seen during his time with the organization. He said the intern program has also been restructured this year, and they will have an almost full Supreme Court for the first time. 

“Many of these positions that historically were not filled in the judicial branch and internally, we’ve already got them filled,” Turner said. “To say that we have a hundred solid members is great. We’re very excited about working with these departments and making change for students on campus.”

Featured Image: The Student Government Association sign is on the entrance of the office on Oct. 25, 2022. Photo by Madeleine Moore

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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