The Daily Gamecock

Column: Student government is bound to make drastic changes this year

<p>FILE— Student Body President candidate Reedy Newton speaks during the student government debate on Feb. 15, 2022 in the Russell House Ballroom in Columbia, SC.</p>
FILE— Student Body President candidate Reedy Newton speaks during the student government debate on Feb. 15, 2022 in the Russell House Ballroom in Columbia, SC.

Student Government's executive officers made several promises to help improve the university while they campaigned for office last semester. The executive officers for this year are going to make progressive changes to the campus.  

Reedy Newton, the student body president; Maia Porzio, the student body vice president; and Noah Glasgow, the speaker of the senate work with the university administration, faculty and staff, to represent and support students. 

Nearly halfway into their tenure as Student Government executive officers, Newton, Porzio and Glasgow have completed a large amount of their goals, while being efficient and effective. 

Some of their biggest campaign promises were to advocate for additional funding for mental health, make Student Government more inclusive and improve the university's response to sexual assault on campus. 

Though the university's mental health resources can be strained from the demand, Student Government plans to help students with an initiative called stigma-free week. This is a week dedicated to educating people about mental health through various fun activities, such as mindfulness walk and a scavenger hunt. 

Student Government also provides more resources to Student Health Services for a mental health summit that allows discussion about national and campus trends in mental health and helps strategize ways to improve student's mental health.  

“It's very clear that our mental health system is a little bit overrun,” Maegan Latham, Porzio's chief advisor, said. “The supply does not meet the demand and a lot of students are frustrated with it."

Although Student Government has not increased funding for mental health services yet, conversations are ongoing, Latham said. 

Newton and Porzio, who campaigned together, also want to make Student Government represents all students on campus. 

“We are basically making sure that we are representing all students on this campus, and it's specifically giving light to our students of minority background to have more and a greater say to basically speak on their behalf for their communities,” Porzio said. "So it's going to help us learn what they need and have that direct communication with us."

The Student Government is working to establish a connection with the minority groups at USC by heading an equity task force, a team specifically dedicated to equity related concerns within the student government, and receiving the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs' implicit bias training. 

By having our student leaders be more educated on topics such as equity and diversity and helping them realize implicit biases, they can better understand the wants and needs of the minority students at USC. 

Another promise officers made was to improve the university’s response to sexual assault on campus. This was a major point of Glasgow's campaign platform while running for speaker of the student senate.  

The senate recently passed a piece of legislation to create an ad hoc committee about Title IX issues that will partner with new Title IV civil rights office on campus. 

That ad hoc committee will work with Assistant Vice President for Civil Rights and Title IX, Molly Peirano, to discuss student opinions about the new policy, bring up the expectations for the university about what needs to change and try to bridge the divide between administrative processes, student input and actions the university takes. 

This year's executive officers are taking careful steps and working to make the Gamecock community a better place.