My name is Gray Hamilton and I am a third-year student at the College studying biology and business administration, with plans to pursue medical school upon graduation from UVa-Wise. In the 2016-17 academic year, I served as the Executive Treasurer to our Student Government Association.
Over the course of the year, I worked closely with previous president Cassidy Strange and other members of our executive board and senate on initiatives that we put together, both past traditions and new ones, toward improving the quality of the student experience.
This opportunity allowed me to see the underlying potentials within our campus community that should be addressed and pursued with initiatives promoted by SGA. Additionally, I developed a strong desire to be an advocate for our college and for our students, and thus, these reasons primarily led to my decision to run for president of the Student Government Association. I was eventually elected by our student body to serve as the Student Government Association President for this, the 2017-2018 academic year.
I officially assumed the position in the first week of May 2017 and have been working through the summer to brainstorm and evaluate effective initiatives that will contribute to the student experience and begin to reform student life within our campus community. While there are several new things that I plan to pursue, I cannot release those due to their lack of approval. I can, however, say that we are bringing back the Red & Gray 5K/1 mile walk on the morning of our Homecoming football game and we are already looking ahead and planning some for the College’s second annual Cavapalooza.
Additionally, this year I hope to create more initiatives that emphasize a stronger sense of inclusion and unity amongst our campus. I have been limited as to what I can plan this summer since I’m lacking an executive board and the majority of my senators, but once those are in place, I plan to sit down and re-evaluate our traditions and re-structure those according to what we feel will make the greatest contributions to the student experience.
It has occurred to me that for some reason, students are intimated by the SGA and thus neglect the budget that we have set aside for their needs. I am not sure why we have continued to entertain this culture, but it is my goal to transform the culture of our association into one that is more approachable and inviting so that students are comfortable with coming to us and asking for money to support their respective organizations.
We set aside a percentage of our budget for general allocation requests. I want our clubs and organizations to know that there is money there for them and my hope is that we will see an increased initiative from our clubs and organizations to take advantage of the availability of this money. As such, I have even increased this budget (from last year) for the upcoming year, hoping that our organizations will see this an incentive to not feel intimated in coming to SGA to ask for money.
On a bit of a side note, our Treasurer and I will be working closely with the Office of Student Life to verify that the organizations requesting money are official and approved by the Assistant Director of Student Leadership. Once the money has been disbursed, we will be conducting more thorough follow-ups to ensure that the organizations are fulfilling their give-backs, a required policy given by the SGA Policy Book.
The lack of effective communication and lack transparency of the Student Government Association seemed to be two of the concerns that I found as I was campaigning for my presidency; so actually part of my campaign, and now my action plan, focuses on the need for a more transparent Student Government Association amongst our campus. I think there are several angles at which this can be approached. I plan to use social media and the Highland Happenings as the two main sources of communication to our student body.
Our presence on social media has been extremely limited in recent years, which I find illogical considering the technological age in which we’re living. Nonetheless, we will be making a major come-back to our social media accounts this year and will likely also use interactive initiatives (contests, prizes) as promotional techniques.
More so, I hope to convey to our students that it is nearly impossible to address their concerns without hearing their voice. That being said, I want students to feel welcome and invited by coming by the SGA office to convey their concerns to our senators.
Not only do I want our senators to be available during their office hours, but I also plan to create additional initiatives that will promote their presence within our campus. Specifically, I’m not sure how I might address that yet, but it is a work in progress.
We hold our weekly meetings every Friday at 1 p.m. in the Dogwood Room on the fifth floor of the Slemp Student Center and anyone is welcome to attend these meetings. If there any concerns amongst our student body, I would invite these concerns to be shared at these meetings during public expression. As an alternative, my office is located on the third floor of the student center and students should always feel welcome to come by and share these concerns with me personally.
It is from the work of all of us that begin to make UVa-Wise a better place for all now and for the generations to follow.