Student Body President Emmie Thompson gave the 2024 State of The Student Body address on Feb. 1 at Rutledge Chapel, where she discussed the accomplishments of her administration and the remaining goals she hopes to accomplish.
Thompson was introduced to the audience by Speaker of the Senate Cameron Eubanks.
"I have never worked with a more dedicated, passionate and loving student leader than Emmie Thompson," Eubanks said. "I think I can speak for the rest of the executive officers, the organization and even the entire student body themselves that when I say that you accomplished your mission with putting students first. And that your clear student advocacy over the past year has ultimately made this campus a better place for us all. So not only am I proud to call you one of my best friends, but ultimately one of the most influential student body presidents in our university's history."
Thompson opened her speech by discussing USC's "monumental year" with welcoming the largest freshman class in university history, continuing to provide a top-ranked first year experience, celebrating athletic successes, holding President Amiridis' first ever State of the University address and having the largest residence hall open in Campus Village.
"(Vice President Abrianna Reaves) and I ran a campaign designed around making tangible changes on campus, rather than making unrealistic or ambiguous promises, and ever since we've been elected, we've tried to keep our word," Thompson said.
Thompson went on to discuss her administration's accomplishments during her term in office. Some of these included installing portable chargers in the student section at Williams-Brice Stadium and creating a gameday Uber discount for the Carolina-Clemson game. Thompson's administration also started the largest constituent based event in Student Government's 150 year history, called Food for Thought, an initiative to get students' opinions on issues around campus.
Thompson said that Student Government listened to students' concerns as they arose and advocated for solutions.
"We heard students when they said they wanted a 24-hour study space during finals week," Thompson said. "(With guidance of the) Thomas Cooper library, the president and USCPD, we keep the library open for fall and spring finals week."
Thompson said that one of the biggest frustrations is campus Wi-Fi.
"I was honored to get to present to the board of trustees in this critical issue and advocate for perpetual funding to be dedicated for network improvement," Thompson said.
Thompson said she hopes that when USC welcomes its new Chief Information Officer in early March, campus will no longer have to worry about lack of internet access. According to USC's website, the CIO has the final responsibility for digital accessibility compliance at USC.
Thompson also presented to the board concerning the student experience. She discussed parking, campus activity fees, student organization funding and the potential new student union. She said Russell House, as it currently stands, cannot support its essential functions and that student senate's ad hoc committee produced the largest, most comprehensive research report in senate history. Thompson looks forward to being able to present the rest of her research findings throughout the rest of her term.
"Our diligence on this project in a timely fashion is crucial. I'm also aware that they will not be accomplished during my time here, but I believe (it's not) about what you accomplish, it's about what others accomplish because of you," Thompson said.
"This is not a farewell speech, as there is still plenty of work left to do in the next month of this term," Thompson said.
She spent the rest of the time giving thanks to everyone who has helped her along her journey.
Thompson said one of this year's largest internal victories was the re-installment of a student body treasurer.
Student Body Treasurer Hannah Augsbach-Lamma said that one of the most beneficial things she's seen during this term is the improved relationship with student organizations.
"I think they feel way more comfortable asking questions and actually requesting funding. In past years, they were confused — the codes were confusing, but now we've been way more transparent, which made them want to talk to us more," Augsbach-Lamma said.
Thompson encouraged members of the Student Government to continue to advocate for students, and thanked them for helping improve the Gamecock experience and for making the state of the student body stronger than ever.
"I challenge our current members (and definitely) remember the obligation we have to serve our peers, knowing that by putting students first today, we can lead to a better and brighter Carolina tomorrow," Thompson said.