The Student Government Association held a town hall meeting in the RC Lounge as a way to allow students to present issues and concerns directly to SGA senators on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
The event had a general meet and greet format. Students came into the lounge and talked to several SGA senators about whatever they wanted while eating the Subway catering. There was also an online poll being done for the SGA to see what issues are important to the student body.
While there weren’t many students attending the town hall meeting, there were many senators there to give insight about what is going on within the Senate and what the current goals are for the future of SGA.
One of the things that many senators expressed was that the SGA is trying hard to improve their connectivity with the student body. Second-year MFA candidate studying theatre set design and technology and the senator for the Graduate School Lindsey Kelley said the Senate was disconnected from the student body in the past. She said she felt that the issue is from apathy among the student body as well as a lack of knowledge on how to reach out to the Senate. Kelly said it is important for students to interact with us because they can change things.
“Students always talk about how they don’t like this or that, and they always complain about their university. But they feel like they can’t change anything because there are these higher powers that be, but the Senate is here to enact change,” Kelley said. “We are here to act as the voice of the students, and I hope that if we can get our name out and advertise what we do students will come to us, and we can act as that voice.”
She also noted that outreach events like the Town Hall have a history of low attendance, including the Starbucks with Senator’s initiative that also attempted to encourage students to interact directly with SGA senators. She said that the formula of offering food as well as conversation in the middle of the day is proving to be not as effective in generating interest among the students, so the SGA is still working on strategies on how to best reach out to the student body.
Laura Nuñez, a freshman pre-nursing major and representative for the College of Nursing and Health Professions in the Senate, said when it comes to the issue of student involvement in the SGA, the Varsity program helps by allowing students to participate directly in SGA events without having to be members.
She also said student parking continues to be an issue that students are concerned about. Nuñez said there were many attempts in the past to increase parking for students, but it comes down to an issue of space.
“They [Southern Miss administration] want us to have more parking, and obviously so do we, but where are we going to put it? Talking to some students, it was brought up that maybe some more levels could be added to the parking garage, and that could be something that we look into, but it really depends on the correspondence between SGA and the people who have the power and the money within the school to be able to put that into motion,” Nuñez said.
Dipin Subedi, a sophomore economics major who is serving as the representative for the School of Social Science and Global studies within the Senate, said that he felt there are other things that the student body and the SGA should focus on.
“Parking is an issue that I’ve been hearing a lot about in Senate; however, I don’t think it’s something that should be prioritized over all other academic affairs,” Subedi said. “There’s so much that we have to focus on in academic affairs because we are college students, but parking is kind of a tertiary issue. Of course, we should focus on parking because there are a lot of issues, so it should be considered, but it shouldn’t be the main focus.”