An ugly election and a chance for change
Zachary Garmoe for TRW

An ugly election and a chance for change

A fireside chat with the SGA president

By Ganesh Mysore

SGA President

gmysore1@umbc.edu

UMBC SGA is an organization that listens to your concerns and offers you opportunities and support to create the change you want to see. You have the very real power to change this campus. SGA is not a pretend government, and we advocate for that power.

Annoying. Corrupt. Harassing. Pretend. These are the words UMBC students have used to describe our Student Government Association in the past few years. In the wake of a well-publicized and scandalous election, these words may seem more appropriate than ever. What, if anything, do your elected student representatives do? Why should you care about an organization that only seems to surface every spring to get you to vote?

As a freshman, I got involved in SGA because I wanted to meet new people and do something that might make my resume stronger. I stayed involved because I found an organization that strives to offer every undergraduate student the opportunity and support to create change at UMBC and beyond.

The culture of student life at UMBC affords students a great deal of responsibility and recognizes our role as co-creators of this campus environment. But what does that mean?

It means that staff and faculty members at UMBC rightly see students as equals in creating campus change. You have the very real power to change UMBC and participating in SGA creates opportunities for students to amplify this power and enact the change you and others would like to see.

Unfortunately, the behavior you may have witnessed during the last election season might have you convinced otherwise.

In its most visible moment, the organization did not reflect the principles it espouses. Candidates harassed many of you and you were treated as if you were simply a number. In light of this grossly unacceptable conduct, SGA is embarking on a process this fall to update and revise its election policy to prevent future elections from proceeding in a manner that is disrespectful to the students of UMBC.

The goal is to develop regulations and processes to conduct our elections in a manner more consistent with the rest of the work conducted by members of SGA, and to better represent the voice of students in selecting its leaders.

The truth is that the work that SGA members do is real — our work and discussions revolve around how to make this campus tangibly better for all the students, faculty, and staff who call it home. We approach our work seriously, and advocate for students in all of the decisions that matter to us. We are not an organization that considers hypotheticals or invents political situations to mirror the inefficacies of our national government.

I truly believe that every student at UMBC has the potential and ability to create vast, positive change on this campus and beyond. That is the vision that enticed me to be a part of this organization. This is the culture that every UMBC student is a part of, and is the driving force behind the changes SGA is making to better serve UMBC and its undergraduate students.

This is our commitment to the undergraduate students of UMBC. This is your invitation to be a part of the conversations and decisions that affect campus life. Attend a Senate meeting, join a department or think up a totally new way to make UMBC better and apply for funding through Prove It! Getting involved is as easy as visiting our website (sga.umbc.edu/apply), so what are you waiting for?