Published on March 6, 2018 in Pacer Times, University of South Carolina Aiken’s college paper
Students are making a change to the Student Government Association (SGA) by means of a petition floating around in the hands of six SGA senators.
If 20% of the student population (690 students) sign it, the current SGA will be restructured. The plan is to divide the Global Studies and Multicultural Engagement Senator seat into two positions, which would be the International Programs Senator and Diversity Initiatives Senator.
It is felt that the current title tends to represent a wide range of people that one person should not represent alone. The co-selected position requires a large amount of attention to the needs of all walks of life, but those journeys are blended together with the current title.
Issues pertaining to international students and the issues faced by minority students are different, and students who back this petition feel that each group should have its own representative.
Anna Carbajal, the current Global Studies and Multicultural Engagement Senator, juggles the two student groups and knows that when focusing on one, it’s easy to foget about the other.
“These new positions will allow for the necessary focus and attention to be placed on students,” Carbajal said.
Carbajal works under Andy Kabascle, the Global Studies Director, and has focused on the international side of the position. She would like to be the new International Programs Senator if the reformation takes place.
Kabascle said, “There is a lot of SGA involvement with international students and because of that there has been an increase in acclimation to their environment.”
For example, Carbajal has been trying to improve the food in the SAC because America’s love for more processed foods can get in the way of healthy lifestyles. Also, international students are typically from places with healthier diets.
On the other hand, the Office of Student Life-Diversity Intiatives has a different agenda, one that caters to marginalized groups.
Amethyst Marroquin, SGA Vice President and student worker in the Office, hopes that the Diversity Initiatives Senator seat will accomplish what the current seat hasn’t allowed for.
“We plan to install gender neutral bathrooms and host more events for disadvantaged students on campus,” Marroquin said.
Taifha Baker, the Assistant Director of Student Life- Diversity Initiatives, said, “Our goal is to ensure that there is as much representation for these student voices as there are initiatives.”
“I think SGA is very academic-heavy right now, rather than person-based,” Marroquin said.
SGA Treasurer R.J. Strauss said, “I signed the petition because SGA is here to represent the student body.”
Strauss said the new positions would introduce new opinions and would make life at USC Aiken better for students.
There have been some concern and refusals to sign, and the petition has caused some to question the underrepresentation of other groups that only have one seat. But based on the signatures received thus far, the change should be coming.