The Student Government Association (SGA) elections have passed, placing new members in prominent positions for next year. It is exciting to see fellow students rise to positions of power where they can create opportunities for student voices to be heard. These fresh faces can bring fresh points of view and have the potential to change how students interact and engage on campus. They also have the ability to improve the level of communication between students and the administration.
Like most schools, Montclair State University has its flaws. Little things in the design seem off to students when the administration makes specific choices for the campus body. A good example of this is the Red Hawk statue outside of College Hall installed in October of 2015.
In the past the SGA has gathered students voices in an attempt to act as a buffer between the two sides of the campus community. Due to this, some miscommunication has stirred between the student government and their handling of campus issues. The discrepancy has led to some mistrust and feelings of dissatisfaction with students who have felt their voices went unheard.
The hope is that next year’s SGA will increase the volume of the student voices they acquire, allowing more students to have a say in the development of Montclair State. A possible avenue in raising students voices would be creating a more visible space for students to be part of the decision-making process on campus. As a commuter school, too many students have adopted the “go to class then go home” attitude.
While it is up to each student to involve themselves on campus, it is also partly on the student government and clubs to inspire such engagement. That includes student involvement in campus politics. Emma Rush, the new vice president of the SGA, plans to use future SGA meetings to open discussions about social justice in hope that it will incite more engagement. This demonstrates her drive to connect with students and may be a good start toward increasing the power of student voice on campus.
From there, the SGA would have an easier time tackling student grievances and hear about actual problems that students have rather than just inconsequential ticks. For example, parking is a constant irritation for commuter students.
Dormers, however, have to contend with a housing selection process that leaves most students confused, frustrated and seeking off-campus housing instead as a remedy. However, if next year’s SGA can start a meaningful discussion with administration about creating a streamlined housing selection, then students can look forward to applying for dorms in the coming years.
Students have also insisted that for a commuter school, Montclair State does not provide nearly enough hybrid and online classes. From the students’ points of view, an increase in these kinds of classes is common sense and long overdue. Yet, the lack of online classes has been given no explanation, which seems to be the result of an issue in communication. With issues like these, the SGA needs to provide more avenues for students to voice those concerns while also making sure their questions are asked to the right people in order to create change.
There seems to be a gap in communication between students and the SGA. How things are done and why they are done the way they are on campus are easy enough questions to find the answers to. Students can do their own research online and from their peers. However, in some cases, students have to dig deeper to understand why $200,000 was spent on a statue rather than getting a clear explanation from the administration through the SGA.
As leaders of the student body, they should be articulating the reasoning behind off-handed initiatives to ensure that the students know why certain decisions are being made. Time will only tell what will be the outcome after these elections, but hopefully these new faces can bring about potential change that will benefit the entire student body.