This Week in SGA: A parting message from a senior senator

By Sebastian Moronta, SGA Correspondent

At the end of this semester, the SGA will lose a significant portion of its members once the seniors graduate, and one of them has a clear message for those she’s leaving behind: remember what it’s all for.

Emike Okhipo is a biochemistry pre-med major with a minor in political science. She serves as a senator for the class of 2018, as well as on the Student Faculty Academic Affairs Committee (SFAAC). She deeply values her work on this committee, as she feels it gives her the opportunity to do the most good helping people graduate.

Some of the particulars of the university’s graduation policy can generate confusion, and students who aren’t completely versed in it often run into trouble due to discrepancies in credits and other issues. Over the past three years she’s worked on the committee with faculty members to clear up some of the language, as well as learn the system inside and out, “It’s not so much what I’ve accomplished, it’s more the knowledge I’ve gained from the projects that I’ve been able to give to individuals who need help.”

Some issues that she’s worked on include fine tuning graduation credit requirements, making sure that they align with the specific majors and their curriculum structures, as well as fleshing out the processes by which students can appeal certain decisions, and work through issues to graduate on time.

At present, the committee is working on refining the language surrounding student-athletes and the academic standing they must maintain in order to participate. Emike wants to clear up some of that language, but even more so reform the attitude. “If a student is struggling…you don’t want to punish the student, you want to tell them where they’re at, where they need to go and what they need to do to get there.”

Emike joined the SGA when she was a sophomore because she wanted to make an impact. She started by shadowing other senators, and she described the body at the time as just “going through the motions.” Since then, she’s seen a cultural shift in the senate. She says sometimes the SGA can be an intimidating place to speak up, what with all the procedures and rules, but it’s getting better. This is due in large part to leadership who encourage outside voices to come and infiltrate the senate echo chamber, offering new perspectives.

To Emike, that’s crucial to the SGA’s success. As the student senate, it’s their responsibility to represent the entire student body, and without their voices it’s impossible to do their job. As senators, it’s their responsibility to give those voices an ear, and a megaphone. But the most important thing, per Emike, is to always keep in mind what it’s all for. The avenues for change that the SGA provides are plastered in procedure and red tape, and in that it’s easy to forget what you’re fighting for, or why you’re fighting in the first place. To the senators she’s leaving behind this summer, and to all those who might join in the future, here’s Emike’s message to you: remember the “why.”

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