The Daily Gamecock

Guest Column: Student Body President Reedy Newton says Student Government prioritizes advocacy for students

Dear students,

It has been a busy spring semester thus far. Student Government has been hard at work making impactful changes within our organization, electing new officers and continuing to advocate for students. 

Thank you to the students who cast your vote in the election for student senators and student body officers for the 2023-2024 Student Government Administration. It is so important for students to cast their vote and make their voices heard through these elections when selecting your campus leaders. It is the hope of Student Government that we can continue to reach and engage all students in this process. The elections for the 2023-2024 Administration took place on Feb. 21 and 22. Emmie Thompson was elected as student body president, Abrianna Reaves as vice president, Cameron Eubanks as speaker of the student senate and Hannah Augsbach Lamma as student body treasurer, a position we returned to the executive team this year. These elected officers will shadow and transition with the current executive officers for the next few weeks, and they will officially assume their new positions on March 22. Energy within our new executive officers is high, and they are excited to get to work on behalf of students. Even though we have elected new officers, I can assure you that the energy within our current administration is still high, and advocacy on behalf of students continues to be at the forefront of our work.

This student advocacy is happening not only on our campus, but also beyond, reaching City Hall, the Statehouse and even our nation’s Capitol. The Student Government Government Relations teams are actively voicing the needs of students at the federal, state and local levels of government. Our City Advocacy Commission and the mayor’s engagement council hosted a Town Hall call with President Amiridis and Mayor Rickenmann. The City Advisory Commission presented its data and continued to emphasize a need to focus on mental health, campus and community safety as well as community engagement. The Congressional Advisory Board traveled to D.C. to meet with South Carolina senators and representatives presenting its research on sexual assault, hazing and the importance of higher education. Our Graduate Student Association had the opportunity to advocate for the needs of graduate students in Washington, D.C. as well. This Student Government legislative engagement has been low during pandemic years, but it has been so exciting to see the passions, use of assessment and advocacy work that our students are doing with the opening of legislative offices. 

Members of Student Government pose for a picture during Carolina Day on Feb. 14, 2023. During Carolina Day, students visit the Statehouse to advocate for state government support of higher education.
Members of Student Government pose for a picture during Carolina Day on Feb. 14, 2023. During Carolina Day, students visit the Statehouse to advocate for state government support of higher education.

In addition, students from every USC campus across the USC system participated in Carolina Day, the university’s annual day of advocacy at the Statehouse. Our Columbia students, specifically, had an opportunity to interact with and thank our state legislators for their continued support of the students of the University of South Carolina through tuition mitigation. Despite the rising tuition prices of most colleges and universities across our state, through state support, the University of South Carolina has been able to keep tuition frozen for several years in a row. This is extremely important because the university is able to keep the cost of tuition low for our students in order to continue to fulfill our university’s mission. 

Finally, I want to personally invite you to the State of the Student Body address that will take place on March 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Russell House Theatre. I will be discussing the current state of the students and giving an overview of the accomplishments of the 2022-2023 Student Government Administration. We hope that you will join us in celebrating this Student Government term and hearing all of the amazing work that has been done. It has been a joy and pleasure serving as your student body president this term, and I am elated to see what this next group of leaders will accomplish. 

If you are interested in joining Student Government and being a part of advocacy on behalf of the student body, I want to encourage you to apply for an opening. During this time of transition of the executive officers, the majority of the Student Government positions will be open for application for the fall. Please visit USC’s Student Government Garnet Gate page to see the 2023-2024 position application. 

I hope each student has a restful and relaxing spring break!

Forever to thee, 

Reedy Newton