By: KATE LUCE
Last semester, Rodger Pinto was elected as the new Student Government Association president.
Pinto originally did not want to become president. Rather, he wanted to leave the position for another interested student, but after joining the SGA as senator and having leadership roles in business and the military, he decided to run for president.
As for this year, Pinto would like to make many changes within the school and SGA itself. Mostly, changes that will help streamline processes for the benefit for the future.
For SGA itself, Pinto is working towards holding elections in February rather than April. However, this change will not go into effect this year. This is because towards the end of the school year, the SGA ends their meetings around then, leaving little time for new SGA members to understand the routines of meetings.
With elections now in February, new members will sit alongside the experienced members and will have a few months to know the ropes of SGA. Thus, making the transition go much smoother for the next academic year.
“There is not a whole lot of transition, so succession planning is another one of those processes we are talking about. The last thing we want is for a student government to come into office, let’s say this year, and what we see, often in the past, is that the entire first semester is kind of getting your feet underneath you and figuring out what to do instead of advocating of students. We want to hit the ground running with events that students will be able to get engaged,” Pinto said.
Another change he is working to implement is having all the schools on IU South Bend campus have at least one senator on the SGA. They would take six of the twelve positions available. Students within each school can vote for these senator positions, and the other six positions will be open to anyone on campus, and anyone can vote for these students during election.
“What has happened in the past, is that every member of student government does not represent the six schools on campus. That can have a pretty big influence on decision making across the university,” Pinto said.
In addition to these SGA changes, clubs requesting funding for events less than $750 will not have to make an appointment to speak directly to all of the SGA and wait two weeks for the funding to go through. Instead, they will be meeting with a funding committee that will deem funding. This will help free up time for SGA meetings for other matters, including student advocacy, talking about campus issues and finding solutions to problems.
In addition, the SGA will begin working with campus clubs and organizations develop semester budgets, so that they can come into a semester knowing exactly how much they have to spend on events. The hope is with this budgeting, clubs and organizations will be better prepared when it comes to their events and help with student engagement move in a positive direction.
This also will help to protect clubs from once being vibrant to dying out and having a hard time to become resurrected. With having a set budget for the semester, club leaders will be able to get going with their events they have planned.
“We have kind of been this organization on campus that has become worried about funding, which is not what we should be doing. I mean we absolutely have a responsibility to be good students to the student activity fee, which is a big role that Student Government plays, but with the right processes in place, those things will work a lot smoother, which will provide us with what student leaders should be doing, advocating for students and making campus life better for students on campus and students coming onto campus in the future,” Pinto said.
One thing that Pinto wants students to know is that the SGA is here to advocate for them.
“If you have a student issue or question that you think you can’t ask the student government, or professor, or staff member on campus, keep in mind that that should be the number one question you ask. What I would like the student body to know about me is that if they ever have an issue or that they can’t approach anyone on campus, approach anyone in the student government or ask to meet with me,” Pinto said.