As the Student Government Association ushered in its new officers, second year SGA president Jeffrey George said he plans to usher in new policies to improve The University of Southern Mississippi and convenience students, staff and faculty.
George plans to improve the quality of food on campus and work with Cook Library to increase student access to the library.
Jeffrey George is a junior political science major from Covington, Louisiana, with prospects to lead and to serve. Since his freshman year, George has served on SGA as the president of Freshman Associates and co-director of Eaglepalooza.
Under the George administration throughout the past year, SGA made several accomplishments. The summer after being elected, George and his team held the first ever joint SGA retreat with the students on the Gulf Coast campus to discuss SGA’s strengths and weaknesses and to find ways to work together to better serve all of Southern Miss.
“In the first week of the semester I worked with SGA Senate, the administration and Parking Management to quickly address the parking issues on campus,” George said. “We were able to change the residential parking on Championship Lane to open zone parking.”
As SGA president, George has worked with SGA Senate and the deans of each college to create a Dead Week Policy to help students during the finals week, often called the most stressful time of the year. This policy is expected to be passed by Executive Cabinet this semester and implemented for the fall of 2015.
SGA has worked directly with the Department of Residence Life to change the overnight guest policy that prohibited students from having guests that were not USM students stay overnight in their residence hall on the weekends. This policy was changed November 2014.
The association has planned and executed four major events so far this semester including The Miss University of Southern Mississippi Scholarship Pageant. The 11th annual Eaglepalooza featuring Icona Pop attracted over 6,000 people to downtown Hattiesburg. Homecoming week showed record participation at the kickoff party and Bring It On Eagle Style. The team also served the community through a blood drive and campus cleanup.
The fourth event for the fall semester, Lighting the Way for the Holidays at Southern Miss, raised over $2,100 for Aldersgate Mission.
“Obviously, none of these would have been possible without the members of SGA that contributed time and efforts toward making these things possible,” George said.
Some of the highlights include expressing appreciation for the administration’s transparency, working toward creating a bus stop through Hub City Transit on 4th Street, researching and passing legislation to transition Southern Miss to a smoke-free campus and working with Aramark to improve the quality of food on campus.
“Not only do I hold at least six open office hours a week for students to come by the office, but as president I also serve on numerous university committees and the university president’s Executive Cabinet to represent the viewpoints of our students and advocate for the needs of students,” George said.
“As president I must also work with numerous offices on campus to coordinate initiatives and help provide student input to improve the student experience.”
George said he and his administration plan to make improvements and changes on campus. They plan to work with university officials to better light darker areas on campus and increase the number of blue safety poles. They also plan to continue to improve SGA Creed Week to promote safety and civility among students, work with the university to improve the flexibility in use of student ID cards to be used at more athletic events and vending machines and work with Aramark and Barnes & Noble to include scantrons and blue books in PODS.
“Scantrons are in constant need with students having tests every day, so not only would the companies and stores be making more money, but life on students would be convenient when it comes to picking up a scantron the last minute before a test,” sophomore journalism major Ileana Kristina said.
The administration also hopes to continue to work to implement the “Dead Week” Policy through the administration passed by the SGA Senate and work with Cook Library to increase student access to the library including more space during finals week and extending hours during the week.
SGA is also developing a long-term strategic plan to ensure organizational effectiveness and stability in the future and continue SGA’s record of communication and outreach to the student body. They will also work with the SGA treasurer to revamp the position to better assist the University Foundation with fundraising, create a student legislative liaison within SGA to work directly with state legislators on behalf of USM students about important issues and continue to work with university administration to remain transparent with the student body about the university budget and how it affects students.
“I truly believe that all of these things can be accomplished in the next year and look forward to working towards all of these points,” George said. “I also believe it is important for SGA to continue to work to be recognized on campus as a group of representatives of the student body that are here to address needs and issues on a daily basis.”
The inauguration ceremony for George and other elected officers will be held as part of Founders’ Day March 30 at 3 p.m in Bennett Auditorium.
“It is important for our students to know that SGA is here to help,” George said. “We want to know what your issues are and what we can do to help you. We are here to advocate for our students and represent the needs of our students. And we will work tirelessly to create a better Southern Miss experience for every student that calls Southern Miss his or her home.”
“When it comes to working with students, I believe that it is important for the SGA president to always be available to help students and quickly respond to emails and questions,” George said.
“Though it is not a requirement, I always make efforts to attend events and programming from a wide variety of student organizations in order to have an understanding of what is important to our students. I also make an effort to attend as many Southern Miss athletic games as possible. It is almost impossible to describe all of the duties and responsibilities for the SGA President position because when you take on this role you agree to a 24-7 commitment to not only represent our students but also our entire university.”