On the third floor of the Campus Center, tucked behind the indoor track and between two other campus organizations’ offices, you can find the Student Government Association (SGA) office. On the plain cream-colored walls hang bright red letters telling visitors to “be great”, papers are scattered around the room and the student body president works tirelessly at the desk.
During the spring 2014 SGA elections, UWG students elected Sandra Santiago as SGA President. Since then she has dedicated herself not only to SGA, but also to all of UWG and its student population.
“My mom is an alumna of UWG, so even before I was a student I witnessed a lot of changes to the campus,” says Santiago. “I still remember the bookstore that used to be next to McDonald’s and the times before the Campus Center was built.”
Santiago enrolled in UWG and quickly involved herself in campus affairs; she joined SGA as a Freshman Senator, as well as Student Activities Council, Latino Cultural Society, Blue Coats and many other organizations. Before being elected SGA President she served as Vice President, Speaker of the Assembly and the Chair of Environment and Security.
“When I came to college, I decided to get involved on campus immediately,” says Santiago. “But what kept me with SGA all these years was seeing how much of a change a few students can make and it’s the hope of more students joining us that keeps me going.”
Applications for the 2015-2016 Senate will open in early March, and Santiago encourages both incumbent senators and students not already involved in SGA to apply.
“The elections are a great way for students to get involved in SGA and they let students know they can participate in what’s going on around campus,” says Santiago. “One thing I would like to see change about SGA before I graduate is to get more students to see what we do.”
Before the start of the fall semester, the SGA Executive Council and Senate hosted a two-day retreat to educate new senators on procedure, to develop relationships with the administrators and to clearly define the Senate’s goals for the upcoming academic year. The Senate decided to focus their efforts on improving academic success, improving campus pride and being more involved community service. Even with these goals in mind, making changes to the university requires more than just an idea or complaint from students.
“It’s difficult because you have to work with both the students and the administration to actually get something accomplished,” says Santiago. “Everyone has their own goals and you have to find a way to put it together so everyone is unified.”
During the fall semester, SGA funded multiple student busses for away sporting games and hosted events such as Up All Night to motivate students during finals week and their Campus Night Walk to promote student safety.
Senators are currently planning functions for the spring semester such as UWG Day at the capital, Late Night in the Library and Meet the Administration. SGA also hopes to partner with other campus organizations for events like Multicultural Day and planning for next year’s homecoming.