Updated: Sep 20, 2022
After a productive spring semester and a summer of planning, the student government administration is jumping back into serving the students of Belmont this fall.
Several SGA events are set to occur this semester, beginning with senate elections Monday, Sept. 6. One of the community events they hope to bring back is from the old days of SGA, “Pancakes and Problems,” where SGA gives out fresh pancakes in exchange for student complaints.
For student government president Zaid Hatem, student involvement and input will be a priority this semester.
At the beginning of his term in January, Hatem hit the ground running; so far, SGA succeeded in having Belmont instated as a “Voter Friendly Campus,” and Hatem added into legislation that all senators have five hours of required community service. This emphasis on civic duty aims to expand Belmont’s impact off of our own campus and into all of Nashville.
One of SGA’s most effective spring initiatives while stuck in the online world of COVID-19 were their grant petitions, which provided $10,000 in grants to student organizations last semester.
SGA’s new student organization liaison initiative also gives student leaders a seat at the table this semester.
The creation of the liaison position allows any student organization to have a representative in every SGA meeting, where they are encouraged to present the concerns of their students. Hatem’s liaison initiative is not only his proudest achievement from his term, he said, it’s a microphone for all students on campus to be heard by the administration.
So far, the organizations with liaisons on SGA are Black Student Association, the Asian American Association, The Hope Council, and Women in Entertainment. This opportunity is open to all organizations, and Hatem emphasized that communicating with student groups will continue to be a priority in his administration.
“The senate is not a group of closed-off students who only do their work on their own. No, we want your input,” he says, “It’s very, very imperative to have that as we make legislation.”
When the first SGA meeting convenes on Sept. 13, another new face will be among them.
The former vice president, Zach Lambert, stepped aside to focus on his busy school schedule, and SGA appointed senior Matthew Nicholson to the position.
Nicholson shared his vision for what SGA was for him and what he hopes it can be for new students.
“When I came in freshman year, SGA served as a great place to start meeting friends and have a little bit of stability in a time where everything was in flux and changing,” he said. “And not just for the freshmen, but for the sophomores who are coming in from an online college year … Maybe we can serve as that comforting little family, so people have somewhere to go and people to talk to.”
In spring, SGA’s first feedback campaign asked students to complete surveys identifying what they cared about and what new policies and programs they wanted to see implemented on campus. This provided SGA with the data they need to push these demands through to upper administration, and more feedback campaigns are set to launch throughout this school year.
“That’s what SGA is supposed to do. We’re the student government. We’re meant to know what the people want. This is a great way for us to reach out, give back a little bit and also more directly talk to them about what they want,” Nicholson says.
PHOTO: SGA Vice President Matthew Nicholson and President Zaid Hatem at the BruinLink Fair Thursday / Photo by Margot Pierson
This article was written by Margot Pierson