The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

SGA is hosting a Student Union on Nov. 30 to reflect on the semester

5 min read

SGA is planning a winter goods drive to help the Fredericksburg community. | @umwsga / Instagram

by PRIYA PATEL

Staff Writer

Over the course of the semester, representatives of the Student Government Association (SGA) have made it their goal to connect more with the student body and enact policies that students care about. The SGA successfully passed a resolution allowing students to carry pepper spray on campus, tabled in academic buildings, organized a town hall and are working on future outreach events. 

Looking ahead, SGA is planning a Student Union event to be held on Nov. 30 in the Underground. This event comes as a response to the concerns voiced by students at the town hall on Oct. 18.

“The purpose of the Student Union is to give students an update on the work we have been doing on their behalf with regard to the concerns brought up during the town hall,” said SGA secretary Sophia Hobbs, a senior history major.

SGA wants to use this event to inform students about what their representatives have been working on in a less tense atmosphere than the town hall.

“The event will be strictly student-student, no administration involved,” said Hobbs. We also welcome any other questions, comments or concerns from students during the event.”

One of the biggest concerns that students voiced this semester was not feeling safe on campus. In response, SGA was able to pass the Eagle Safety Resolution, and students are now allowed to carry pepper spray on campus. UMW plans to adopt a pepper spray policy that is similar to Virginia Commonwealth University’s, which allows students, faculty and staff to carry pepper spray on campus. According to VCU Police’s website, they do not consider pepper spray a weapon. 

“We packed a lot of things into [the Eagle Safety Resolution] bill, and many senators contributed to that bill’s creation and passing, so I was very pleased to see what the final result looked like when we passed it up to the SGA Advisory Board,” said Joey Zeldin, a junior political science major and SGA community relations committee chair and class of 2023 senator.

The Student Union is not the only thing SGA has planned for the remainder of the semester.

“We are also planning a winter goods drive, Baby It’s Cold Outside, which we will provide more information about soon,” said Hobbs.

Zeldin has come up with several ideas for the community relations committee to work on during the spring.

“I have a few student engagement ideas in the pipeline, but nothing [is] solidified yet,” said Zeldin. “Some of these include a FRED, which just recently rebranded to FXBGO, bus workshop where students can learn about the FRED bus, how to ride the bus and where you can go.”

Zeldin also hopes to improve residence life for on-campus students.

“I’ve also recently thought about how students feel about living on campus and have started drafting ideas for some sort of group that consists of a representative or multiple representatives from each residence hall on campus,” said Zeldin. “I envision this almost as a neighborhood association but for the campus community to get involved with and voice their issues or concerns about residence halls or … living on campus.”

Zeldin would also like to improve the relationship between UMW and the city of Fredericksburg.

“COVID-19 definitely impacted our ties with the city, since not as many students were able to go downtown and support the businesses there, as well as interact with residents,” said Zeldin. “This is something that is still in a very deep planning phase, but something I am definitely eager to get done when the warmer months come around.”

SGA began the fall 2021 semester with the goal of establishing a greater connection with the student body. They held several tabling events in the first half of the semester leading up to the town hall on Oct. 18. These tabling events allowed UMW students to communicate directly with SGA officers. The tables were staffed by SGA representatives and served as a place where the student body could ask questions, voice concerns and get to know their SGA officers. 

Zeldin believes that the town hall was beneficial for students.

“It really allowed students from all walks of life to relay their issues to administration and what they want to see done on campus,” said Zeldin. “It was a heavy atmosphere, but I think it was what we needed to see happen and I eagerly await more action from the administration to get things done for all students on campus to feel safe, to feel welcome and to feel included.”

Alexander Regan, a senior political science major, believes SGA has done a good job, but the UMW administration is not following through.

“I think it’s nice that they’re trying but the school administration doesn’t seem to give a shit so it only goes so far, but that is 100 percent on the school and not the SGA,” said Regan. “I think that the SGA does a great job, all things considered.” 

Hobbs weighed in on what she thinks has been SGA’s most important actions so far. 

“In my opinion, the most impactful thing SGA has done this semester is to get fully involved and engaged with the student body,” said Hobbs. “Students are our number one priority and events like the town hall and upcoming Student Union have allowed us to hear what students’ most pressing concerns are regarding campus life.”

Zeldin is thankful for the student body’s input.

“Without our student body, we wouldn’t be able to vocalize so passionately and so fiercely what exactly students need,” said Zeldin. “I, along with every member of SGA, have seen what our students want through their voices and their actions, and we deeply appreciate it because it gives us more to work with and drives us to do even better in our own positions.”

SGA will continue to address student concerns in the upcoming spring semester.

“Students have vocalized a multitude of concerns, but our biggest ones have included general campus safety, racial injustice, negative racial biases and concerns with campus PD,” said Zeldin. “I hope that next semester, we get to take these issues at the start of the semester and branch outwards to tackle these issues head-on and productively so that everyone is happy, safe and satisfied with the outcome.”

Hobbs also added a message for the student body.
“As usual, know that we are listening to what students have to say and putting in the work on their behalf,” said Hobbs. “To all students, never hesitate to reach out to any SGA member with any questions or problems you may have. We are here to serve you and make UMW a better place for students to be.”

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