Throughout the years, Saint Louis University’s Student Government Association has acquired a list of accomplishments that speaks toward the organization’s goal of enhancing students’ lives at SLU. In 2002, SGA helped renovate SLU’s Busch Student Center, acquiring a student organization suite within the building. Between 2006 and 2007, renovations through the organization were focused on the Simon Recreation Center. In 2009, SGA initiated the 24-hour availability policy at Pius Library, and in 2010, organized more renovations of the same library. One year later, SGA began the university-wide usage and promotion of the monumental Oath of Inclusion.
These accomplishments reflect the student organization’s power and responsibility to create change at SLU on behalf of the student body. The SGA Mission Statement alludes to some lofty goals when it states, among other things, that the goal of the association is “to promote the welfare and unity of the greater student community; to uphold the ideals and values of the Jesuit Catholic tradition, especially the ideal of ‘men and women for others’.”
But Student Government Association president Ann Knezetic broke down her organization’s goals in more digestible terms. “The biggest thing that I would tell new students is that SGA is here as a resource as well as an advocacy body for student issues and concerns,” she said.
Despite its power and influence, SGA has struggled in recent years to develop the sort of student body participation it wants—and needs—to remain relevant to the student body. Elections during the spring 2014 semester—the contest that brought Knezetic to power—saw historic lows in student voter turnout, and in many executive board contests, candidates ran without any opposition. In many ways, this could reflect an overall apathy among the student body about how SGA affects them, and Knezetic wants this changed.
“I would like to create a better relationship with students and the administration,” Knezetic said. “I believe that building bridges between the two entities is important. I want the student body to know the administration and vice-versa.”
Knezetic pointed out some tangible, on-campus evidence of this improving relationship between administration, SGA and the student body. For instance, SGA now has a much more capable office suite within the BSC; it is no longer across from Grand Market, but down the hall in a room with a lounge and plenty of conference and meeting rooms. In addition, the space is more visible to students, sitting on the corner of a main thoroughfare in the BSC. The University News now occupies SGA’s old space.
SGA was also a strong proponent of the Water Bottle Initiative, which saw the installation of 29 new water bottling filling stations across campus, both inside and out. Included in this effort to reduce disposable water bottle waste is the opportunity for SLU students to get a free water bottle from SGA. They will, or have been, handed out at various events across campus, according to Knezetic.
Of course, part of having an effective student government on campus is having adequate student participation in the governing process. SGA Senate meetings, held every Wednesday in BSC 256, are open to all SLU students.