SGO: An Evolution from Passive to Active Voice
When I first began at Arcadia, I was content to keep my head down. I was there for one thing and one thing only: to get my degree, and get out.
As someone who hated to speak up and stand out, I was ready to go my four years without making any sort of mark on the University’s community. One of the many things that Arcadia pitches as a huge positive on campus is student participation and community. They stress that we have a voice and many chances to say something if we feel like a policy or otherwise needs amending. I recognized this, but truthfully, wanted nothing to do with any of the events or opportunities presented to me.
Then, my friend forced me to apply to be a Student Government Organization (SGO) senator. This friend had recently been appointed secretary of SGO, and was fresh-faced and excited to recruit as many new senators as possible. I often have trouble saying no, so I applied. The process was breezy, not as stiff or scary as I had imagined it would be. I had to write about why I wanted to be a senator, which I honestly was not sure of yet. I managed to get my way through a paragraph about helping Arcadia become a better place. When the time came for the student population to endorse those who applied, I was surprised when, even after all my efforts to stay hidden, I accumulated beyond enough endorsements to participate and be a senator.
Through these Senate meetings, I have been able to do a lot of things that I had not even considered. Every meeting, the House of Representatives (a board member of every club at Arcadia) attend alongside us. We got to meet and hear about what different clubs were offered. I did not know half of them existed until my first meeting. We also have executive votes on new clubs that students want to begin, which means hearing stories from students about why they chose to start a club and how many people are interested. I even joined a few that I found out about through SGO! Being part of these meetings brings me closer to campus and those who want to make a difference through clubs and activities like casino night and festivals, roller rinks and picnics. SGO wants to bring the Arcadia community closer together—something that I never knew I needed, but now cannot live without.
Seeing the tangible, obvious results of the work that we did filled me with something I had never really experienced before: school pride.
– Taylor Wesner
While COVID-19 and virtual learning changed what being a senator looked like for a while, it was a relief to be able to air out my concerns and those of students around me. SGO is broken up into four committees, each of which have different responsibilities delegated to them when brought to the attention of the Senate. I was appointed Chair of the Student Services Committee, which took care of general issues regarding services provided by the University to the student body. Last semester, we focused on Dining Services and actually made substantial changes to the hours provided. Seeing the tangible, obvious results of the work that we did filled me with something I had never really experienced before: school pride. We banded together to meet with administrators, Dining Hall executives, and each other to work out the best way to make a solution to the issues we were having. And we did it.
I was heard. It was an unfamiliar feeling, speaking up and realizing that there are people out there to listen. As cheesy as it sounds, being a part of SGO helped me realize just how many people felt the same as I did. Many of us wanted to see change in our school and our community, but we just did not know how to speak up. Going to SGO meetings and events helped me meet people, make connections, and solve problems that I saw in the University. Things are not perfect here, problems will always arise, but Arcadia listens to its students and implements the changes we suggest. I would not have the confidence to note these conflicts and bring them to the administration’s attention if I had not joined SGO last year. I am thankful for all the opportunities that being in this organization has given me, and I cannot wait to see how my campus voice will evolve for the better in these next few years.
You can say I’ve come a long way.