Student Body President Reedy Newton gave a State of the Student Body address on March 16 on the Russell House patio, where she gave updates from her programming events and accomplishments of her administration.
In 2020, the address was delivered online, but Newton said the student body president has not given the address in person for at least six years.
“I felt like it was extremely important to bring this event back, as we did with so many others, to signify to the students that we are Student Government," Newton said after the speech. "We work on behalf of the students, and we've done important work this year and I think it's important to continue to communicate that.”
Newton was introduced by Vice President for Student Affairs Rex Tolliver.
“She is a product of the state of South Carolina," Tolliver said. "Reedy is a fourth-generation Gamecock from a family that is well-established in the state, in the community, both in civic life and political life. But one thing that I admire about Reedy is that you never heard Reedy rely on who she was or where she was from."
Newton’s parents, South Carolina State Rep. Weston Newton and USC board of trustees member Rose Buyck Newton, were also in attendance at her address.
Newton opened her speech by thanking her friends, family, coworkers, university administration and the student body, including her class of 2023.
“To the senior class: When I think of all that we have endured during our college tenure, 'resilient' is the word that comes to mind. Between three university presidents and a global pandemic turning our lives upside down, we did not have the college experience that we had anticipated,” Newton said.
Newton recapped the major projects her administration accomplished over the course of its term in office, starting with expanding the hours of Thomas Cooper Library. Executives worked with former Dean of the library Steve McNally to implement the change and welcomed current Dean David Banush to the university. Newton said that she was grateful to have expanded the hours, though the library will not be operating 24 hours a day again just yet.
Newton also went over the improvements and projects taking place within Student Government, such as improving communications via a biweekly internal newsletter, increasing social media usage and including Newton’s monthly columns in The Daily Gamecock.
"Many of the top areas of improvements in the minds of students were reflected in the passion projects that we were planning to pursue throughout the year. The three biggest student concerns focused around parking and transportation, academic advising and sense of belonging on a college campus," Newton said.
Newton said her administration met with the Parking and Transportation Services to advocate for better student parking, aided in communicating with the student body about game day shuttles and continued employing the Student Government's airport shuttle service for breaks.
In order to improve students' sense of belonging on campus, Newton said her administration worked to connect students with clubs, programs and mental health resources such as Thrive@Carolina, an online wellness hub.
As for advising, Newton said that with the help of her team, she was able to work alongside college deans and the Office of the Provost to commit to and establish a four-year academic advising model.
Newton also touched on the growth of the university during her term. She said his year’s freshman class was the largest and most diverse in university history.
According to Newton, fraternity and sorority life also expanded, with the largest College Panhellenic Association (CPA) and Interfraternity Council (IFC) recruitment to date and the most CPA bids accepted. Newton also said Student Government has grown in membership and involvement efforts.
Student Body President-elect Emmie Thompson watched the speech from the audience. Thompson said that for her upcoming term, she wants to mirror Newton's care for the student body.
“I think the biggest thing that I saw from her was that she focused on doing stuff behind the scenes and not for credit. She was always an advocate for students,” Thompson said. “She didn't do it for recognition, she did it because she knew these were things that students needed, and that's something that I'll always take away and try to carry with me.”
Thompson will be inaugurated March 22, when she will first address the student body as president.
"I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for this incredible opportunity to serve the flagship university of our state," Newton said. "I will forever cherish the honor and privilege it was to play a small role in the bettering of this great university, and I will forever be touched and humbled by this experience."