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Following-up with campaign promises

(From left to right) Chief Justice Taylor Davis, SGA Treasurer Kevin Aria, SGA Vice President Elizabeth Hernandez and SGA President Carl Thomas Jr. at a SGA meeting.

(From left to right) Chief Justice Taylor Davis, SGA Treasurer Kevin Aria, SGA Vice President Elizabeth Hernandez and SGA President Carl Thomas Jr. at a SGA meeting.

Briana Cunningham

Briana Cunningham

(From left to right) Chief Justice Taylor Davis, SGA Treasurer Kevin Aria, SGA Vice President Elizabeth Hernandez and SGA President Carl Thomas Jr. at a SGA meeting.

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Elected last spring, Carl Thomas Jr., Elizabeth Hernandez, Kevin Aria and Taylor Davis made commitments to the University of South Alabama student body. Almost a year into their term, it is time to see the progress they’ve made in fulfilling those campaign promises.

SGA President Carl Thomas Jr. holds the first office to be evaluated. During election season, Thomas promised to reduce and raise awareness of sexual assault on campus by working with Sexual Assault Violence Educators.

He currently sits on the committee for the Violence Prevention Alliance on campus and plans to participate in V-Day, a movement aimed at ending violence against women.

Thomas said SGA continues to support SAVE through event sponsorships. Thomas also promised he would work to raise awareness of mental health issues on campus by having a mental health awareness month.

According to Thomas, a mental health awareness month is still in progress. Thomas attributed low turnout for mental health events to timing. Last year’s mental health events took place before finals and spring commencement ceremonies.

“I’m going to meet with Counseling and Testing Services to see if we can move it up or make it bigger so more students will be able to participate and attend those events,” Thomas said. “That final stretch is a really busy time for students.”

Thomas paired with Counseling and Testing Services in November to host a Being Black and Feeling Blue, event aimed at discussing mental health in black communities.

“I was so glad to be a part of creating and fostering that type of event where students are able to share how they really feel about the taboo that is mental health in the black community,” Thomas said.

He plans to work with Counseling and Testing services again to host a discussion on masculinity. Details will be released at a later date.

The second office to be evaluated is the position of SGA vice president, held by Elizabeth Hernandez. Hernandez told students she was committed to educating senators on governmental transparency and Robert’s Rule of Order, a manual on parliamentary procedure.

Hernandez said she made an active effort to give students the opportunity to bring their ideas, concerns and suggestions for improvements by hosting town halls, an event where politicians and public officials answer questions from the public.

“A lot of people don’t know their senators,” Hernandez said. “You vote for these people in the spring and you never see them again. We did it last semester. A lot of the senators came back and said they got really good feedback, so a lot of these ideas have turned into Senate projects for the senators. It’s been really helpful.”

She plans to improve governmental transparency by having the smaller committees in the Senate begin recording their own minutes.

“I want to put that [Senate committee meeting minutes] up as a tab on our SGA website so that the public knows what these committees are up to even if they don’t attend our Senate meetings,” Hernandez said. “I’m actually working with the web committee right now to see that they put up that tab.”

The third office up for evaluation is SGA treasurer. Prior to being elected in the spring, Kevin Aria promised students he would figure out how much of their tuition funds the SGA. He also proposed giving new student organizations a start-up fund of $300, and discussed plans to work with Uber to provide a 50 percent discount or $20 free fare to students during the after hours, on Thursdays to Saturday from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Aria was not available for comment on the progress of his campaign promises at the time of publication.

The last office to be evaluated is SGA chief justice. Taylor Davis was re-elected to the position and planned to better integrate the associate justices into SGA as well as raise campus-wide awareness of the USA Supreme Court. Davis stated associate justices were included in the official SGA portrait composite this year, given SGA apparel and included in SGA events that were previously only for the Senate.

“SGA is also hosting a professional development series this semester for the associate justices that will be open to all students,” Davis stated in an email. “With these changes, I see more awareness happening on campus for the Supreme Court and the work of the associate justices.”

Students can engage with their college representatives on the dates below:

College of Nursing: Feb. 16; 11 a.m. -1 p.m.; HAHN Lobby

College of Business: Feb. 7 and March 21 (11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) @ MCOB

School of Computing: Feb. 7 @ 1 p.m. @ Shelby

College of Education: Feb. 21 @ 3:15 @ UCOM

College of Engineering: Feb. 21 @ 12:30 p.m. @ Shelby Hall

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Following-up with campaign promises