As we enter the eighth week of classes, adjustments are still being made to ensure the success of the student body. Student Body President, Dawson Spencer, speaking on behalf of SGA, has assured students that they have been working tirelessly to keep up communication and continue implementing programs for students, even if they are fully online.
Within the organization, everything has been moved online via Zoom until health and safety can be guaranteed in person, which is unlikely to happen any time soon. Meeting via Zoom is an obstacle within itself because of technical difficulties and hectic living environments. Student Body President Dawson Spencer has named moving fully online as their greatest obstacle. SGA changed how to “advocate for students with administration, how we conduct our meetings, how we host events, what events we can and cannot host due to health concerns.”
Dawson Spencer was quick to mention, however, that in no way has the board of SGA been latent in their duties and they are overcoming the adversities that have risen due to COVID-19 one step at a time as an organization. Initiatives are slowly coming, he was sad to say, but student perspectives are being taken into consideration. A virtual town hall was recently held where students were able to give their opinions and important topics were discussed with WCU faculty and student leaders. Soon, the SGA meetings will be livestreamed as well so that students are able to feel more included, as Vice President Aaron Speyer explained.
SGA was expecting to start their flu shot campaign along with one for mental health and wellness, although they are not public at the moment due to COVID-19 interrupting many of their regular procedures. Speyer also mentioned that funding is being provided for Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) so that events for students can be provided. A new program, the Student Health and Safety Committee, was founded since the COVID-19 outbreak where they are working on promoting student health, both mental and physical, during this hard time. The WCU administration is also working with the SGA to get information out on campus about COVID-19, suicide prevention, breast cancer awareness, and much more.
“The sense of community here at Western truly surprises me all the time and will overcome this adversity,” Speyer said. In order to continue promoting this sense of community, SGA will continue hosting tabling events on the lawn in order to reach students, along with hosting online events that will be available in the near future. Spencer believes community connections can be built by furthering participation in these events.
What is most important and difficult at this time, is marketing for SGA. At the time, it is a difficult obstacle they are still trying to figure out, but it is necessary as well because students are feeling more and more now that they are in the dark. Speyer tells us that because the governor is changing his orders, the limits for COVID-19 are changing constantly as well and that is hindering much of their plans. However, he assures us that tabling events are being planned where students can ask SGA questions face to face to get a better understanding and “to establish new connections with students who may not have been aware of what SGA does.”
“SGA PR and Marketing Committee has been reformed into a Community Engagement and Outreach Committee that dedicates their time towards finding new ways to engage with the student body and our community,” Speyer said.
Another problem Speyer said that occurs during all of their meetings is “Zoom fatigue.” As students, most of our classes are online and when Zoom meetings are put on top of Zoom classes it can take a toll on people. Even though they are facing a lot of hardships they realize that all of the students are and assure that SGA is working hard to persevere and provide the best experience for the students.
No matter what, VP Speyer explains that “while the pandemic poses significant changes and challenges, we have been working hard behind the scenes on improving our internal operations as a team in order to become more productive and cohesive. I am confident that we will continue working hard together to provide a unified voice for our student body.” He also states that once things return to normalcy, “the Student Government Association will have more opportunities to continue advocating for our fellow peers, and seeing the efforts of not only the Senators that have stepped up into leadership roles, but the efforts of our entire team as a whole during this time, I am proud and confident in our organization’s future.”
Speyer also urges students to pay attention to the Last Minute Productions announcements because they are hard at work to provide events outside for students, such as movies on the lawn and a drive-in movie program. This can be found in the events tab of engage.wcu.edu.
Students are more than welcome to join the SGA meetings via Zoom as all meetings are open to the public. If you are interested, DM the @WCUSGA page on social media, asking for the Zoom link.