SGA needs to represent all students

Khalid AlMubarak

To build a truly representative students’ union, we can use the government body we already have.

I began looking into this with a great degree of skepticism toward SGA. The students’ unions that I witnessed abroad were far more activist-oriented and more representative of their constituents.

To solve this discrepancy between my observations, students’ opinions and what SGA stands for, I asked SGA President senio Christopher Petrillo to define SGA.

“The Student Government Association is a representative body for the students of the University of Vermont. We’re a democratically elected students’ union in a sense,” Petrillo said.

It should be noted, however, that about 20 percent of the entire student population on campus voted in this presidential election, and that percentage is the highest it’s been in years.

“We make decisions that vary from budgetary discretionary decisions on club allocations,” Petrillo said. “We make decisions based on resolutions. We lobby the administration to change policies to better students’ lives on campus.”

As a students’ union, SGA is too soft in exercising its powers, but only by going deeper into the issue with Petrillo have I come to see why that may be the case.

One presidential candidate handed me his campaign card, but when I asked him a question about his platform he told me, “it’s all online,” and did not engage me in his own campaign. I wonder if this is what turns students away from voting.

The quality of SGA primarily depends on student participation and making our voices heard.

“Students should always have more say on issues on campus, but the extent at which it happens is entirely up to them,” Petrillo said.

It’s up to us to improve the level of representation to be able to safely assert our powers as students on our campus.

Aggressive participation in SGA, not only in elections but in all issues, is critical and may be the best form of action to take in order to turn SGA into a fully representative students’ union.

Khalid further discussed this topic in a Cynic podcast.