Student Association prioritizing outreach, student support

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SVSU’s Student Association (SA) plans on implementing new events and changes to the organization during the new academic year.

Ramon Hernandez, the SA campus events director, hopes that many of the new events SA plans to roll out will help students engage with the organization and “find their niche” at SVSU.

“I want everything to be very interactive,” Hernandez said. “Many of our programs were passive last year, and I want them to be more active this year.”

Since this year’s Battle of the Valleys (BOV) charity is The Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Center, Hernandez wants to have a mental health resource available to students.

“It would be called ‘Wellness Wednesdays,’” he said. “Basically, we would implement a regular mental health meeting or anxiety parties. I know they have them at other universities, where students can vent and get out their emotions, talk to us and see that we’re here to service them as students.”

Most of the other BOV events will remain the same, but SA will be collaborating with Sorority Phi Sigma Sigma for their annual “Mr. Phi Significant,” a male beauty pageant with disparate themes each year.

Hernandez is also partnering with Roberto Garcia, the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, to create a course on race, class and ethnicity.

Hernandez hopes to implement a clothing exchanging program, where first-year students who cannot leave campus can recycle and upcycle SVSU students’ clothes in a clothing exchange program.

To help students learn more about the allocations SA gives, he is looking to help RSOs learn how to apply for SA allocations.

“We came across a lot of RSOs last year that didn’t even know we gave out allocations,” he said. “We felt like that was a problem. We aren’t covering all the bases we need to, and we’re not representing all the people we’re supposed to.”

Besides these new events, many student favorites, such as Saturday football tailgates and the Cardinal Ball, will return.

One service that SA helped fund, Nightline, which was a free bus service for SVSU students sponsored by several other outside donors, will most likely not be returning this year.

“I do not believe that the Nightline will be continuing this year, but I still have not received a final answer,” said Caitlin Coulter, the SA president.

While Hernandez plans on leading SA in the creation of myriad new events, SA also plans to “change the face of the Association,” according to Coulter.

“We now have rolling applications, meaning that students can apply throughout the entirety of the year,” Coulter said. “Additionally, we are working to … make it more inviting and welcoming to students.”

Part of this plan involves open forums, which Coulter plans on rolling out in the next few weeks.

“This is new compared to previous years, and will give students a chance to have discussion and voice concerns with me as well as other members in the Association,” Coulter said.

SA will also continue to make last year’s goal of being more transparent and getting more students involved in the organization a priority.

“One way I feel this could be effectively approached is working on the atmosphere in our meetings and in the office to make it more welcoming to students,” Coulter said.

To facilitate SA’s goal of greater student involvement, a new chair position, the James A. Letherer Diversity Chair, was created. The position is currently held by Darious Henry, who is now responsible for creating diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“The implementation of this new leadership position is largely the responsibility of former Campus Events Director Libby Bihary,” said Raegan Schultz, the SA executive assistant.

“(She) worked tirelessly throughout the 2017-2018 school year alongside Roberto Garcia of the Office of Multicultural Services to create more inclusive and affordable events that diverse crowds of students could enjoy.”

SA also has created an anonymous text concern line that students can utilize to express concerns they may have related to SVSU and student experiences on campus.

“Our Student Concerns Committee will only be able to see the phone number associated with any submitted concern,” Schultz said. “This new text line provides a medium where SA can stay in communication with the concerned student and follow up with them on the progress of their concern and maintain that level of anonymity.”

The number for the service is (989) 569-5698.

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