The University of Indianapolis Office of Student Affairs is introducing the Student Government Association for the 2023-2024 academic year to create a more traditional form of student representation by instituting student government by way of the Student Government Association for the 2023-24 academic year, according to an email sent by Senior Associate Dean of Student Life and Leadership Steven Freck on March 1. The email said SGA will aim to represent the voice of UIndy students and work with administration to enact meaningful change on behalf of the student campus community.
According to Freck, SGA used to exist as Indianapolis Student Government, but over time was restructured to combine different student leadership organizations into the Student Leadership and Activities Board. Students, faculty and staff—as well as executive leadership—voiced a desire to see a more formalized student government, according to Freck, and the idea is that the SGA will provide a service for students to voice their needs.
“So that’s kind of the hope is that this formalized body will serve to really look at what students would like to see in their unique experience, what they’re really enjoying and things that could be improved upon,” Freck said.
According to Vice President for Student Experience, Success and Belonging Amber Smith, the relaunch of SGA does not mean the dissolution of SLAB, but that the two separate groups will continue to work on campus. SGA will function as a student government and SLAB will operate as a university programming council. Smith said typically in a university structure there is a group of students that work together to bring ideas for programming and engagement, and then another group which is student government that exists as a body to voice concerns to help impact change to work with administration.
Smith said the student government is important to participating students because it provides clarity for them moving forward within their careers when seeking employment or further education. Providing clear and well-recognized titles and definitions of an organization helps employers better understand the roles a student took on during their academic careers, according to Smith.
“Whenever a student writes a resume and they take it to graduate school, or they take it to their job, I need it to be clear what you did,” Smith said. “And if I put [that] you’re in student government, and you served as vice president, everybody knows what that is… We have to be definitive because it impacts the way the students journey in the future is.”
Junior international relations and political science major Bryce Logan is running for SGA Vice President alongside his running mate and presidential candidate junior political science major Harley Avery, according to Freck. Logan said he decided to run with Avery based on both of their shared political science disciplines and his international relations training, as SGA would allow them to implement what they have learned in coursework through the leadership positions.
“We wanted to ensure that the students have a voice. We’ve noticed, especially coming off of COVID[-19], a lot of people are a little bit lackadaisical with getting back into the swing of things socially and as well academically,” Logan said. “So being able to speak up about what certain changes are being made to UIndy [is what we want to do].”
Students will vote for a president-vice president ticket, according to the SGA Overview document from Student Affairs. The ticket with the most votes will win. According to Freck, there are four pairs of students running:
- Stephano Ibarra Shishido and Erick Cavazos
- Harley Avery and Bryce Logan
- Abigail Wittenmyer and Kelli Thomas
- Marliss Winfrey and Cesar Rivera
The Office of Student Affairs will hold the inaugural SGA election from April 17-20, according to Freck. The winning presidential team will be able to choose their cabinet, Freck said.
“I think more than ever, [students] should view it as an opportunity for their input on campus matters to be heard,” Freck said. “So the students elected into these positions really are here to work with students at every level to hear what they want to see on campus.”