From campus events to behind-the-scenes activities, Student Government took the University of Miami by storm this semester.
While students mostly acknowledge the weekly farmer’s market and the ICEE machine in the C-store, a large portion of SG’s activities take place beyond the realm of the tangible.
“We’re really reaching out to students,” said Ryan Aquilina, press secretary for Student Government.
Aquilina said he likes to engage people around campus and talk to them about campus issues.
“Why do students have to come to us when we can go to them?” he said.
As press secretary, which is a new position in SG this year, Aquilina manages the newly restructured website, handles press releases and creates the fliers that are posted around campus.
“Christina Farmer’s been doing a great job of really working together to try to accomplish things,” Aquilina said. “Each member of the executive board spearheads a project, and some are team efforts.”
Farmer’s job has a lot to do with keeping SG members on task.“I’m a delegator,” said Christina Farmer, the president of Student Government. “You have an exec board for a reason.”
With students of all ages, each passionate about different projects, the board coordinates to accomplish each task, Farmer said. They keep track of projects in the Student Government office, with a to-do list crammed onto a white board and another list for completed tasks.
This semester’s initiatives included Rent-a-Text, now available to students through the bookstore, Student Government’s updated Web site and the re-vamped structure of the online ACE.
The Web site now has a “get involved” link, which students can use to apply for positions or submit ideas.
SG also implemented the “Lunch with Christina,” through which students can apply to have lunch with the president on a Wednesday at the Rat to discuss ideas or ask questions.
“We were here all summer and we got a lot of our big projects done,” said Aquilina, who placed a large emphasis on student outreach. “That people feel engaged- that’s the most important thing.”
Students across campus have noticed SG’s efforts.
“Student government has done really well with following through with promises,” junior Catherine Johns said. “They’ve done a lot of cool things, so I’m happy.”
Yet some students enjoy the perks of SG’s initiatives without knowing from where the momentum comes.
“I always assume they have a hand in everything,” freshman JP Pascual said.
Freshman Stephanie Ioannou said she is not sure exactly what SG is responsible for, and thought that increased promotion might help. “But I always see them in the breezeway,” she said.
Nevertheless, with a laundry list of completed tasks, SG looks forward to carrying this momentum into the spring.
“We have the opportunity to do great things,” said Farmer, and although she is headed into her final semester at UM, she is not ready to be a lame-duck president. “I’m not ready to sit back and say, ‘I’m done.’”
She plans to push through projects for next semester and spend time helping the next set of elected representatives.
Next semester, SG plans to finalize projects ranging from a UM mobile application to a more specified way to search for courses during registration, by time or by professor. They will also revise their budgeting process.
Farmer said she values accomplishing tasks in the short term, but also wants to leave sustainable, long lasting impact on the university. The key to that, she said, is helping the next Student Government.
“I want to leave a legacy where they feel prepared to take over their job,” she said.
Having something tangible for students, she said, makes people feel like their voices are heard, and this year’s SG places a large influence on follow-through.
“If I promised this, then we’re going to do it. I’m big on keeping promises,” Farmer said. “When it actually comes to fruition, that’s when you say, ‘wow.’”
Dana Hatic may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.