Will Freeman, Madison Kahl and Mariah Beane prepare their campaign by talking to students who feels disconnected with the University of Tennessee’s campus because they are not involved with the Student Government Association; they have no knowledge about major campus issues until after decisions are made.
They heard this story one too many times, and all agree that students need to be more involved with SGA’s efforts and they should directly hear from the students.
The three juniors founded Connect UT, a student organization aimed to connecting students with campus organizations and administrations, because they want to integrate students with organizations to make students feel more involved.
“I think every year campaigns come through and promise a more effective SGA, and it’s kind of really hard to come through with that because it’s such a big organization,” Freeman said.
Kahl said their campaign started out by asking what values they wanted to bring to their campaign.
“Students don’t have to know about SGA or even care to, but we have to know about students and we have to care to,” said Kahl. “We really have tried to listen to what students want to see on campus.”
Connect UT has multiple policies to help integrate students with SGA, including Freeman’s idea of a President’s Round Table, where students from different organizations would be invited to come together and discuss things going on campus and within organizations.
Beane also said that she wants to integrate Student Services with other organizations.
“I’ve seen the impact that Student Services can have on campus, and for the members within different committees, really feeling like you’re connecting to students as well as just SGA as a whole,” she said.
She also said that they want to create a Fort Sanders Task Force because they feel that safety is imperative to tackle due to the high population of students living there.
Freeman said that what sets Connect UT apart is the experience the three have with not only SGA but other organizations including Greek life, the Agriculture campus, the Chancellor Honor’s program, and Global Leadership Scholars program.
“We’re three people who have known each other for three years, have known SGA process for three years, have seen what all campus has to offer,” he said. “And we feel confident in being able to discuss the student needs to the administration by using these experiences.”
If the three are elected in together, Freeman said they want to continue to work closely together, have an SGA that holistically works together and have students work together within an organization to become more effective.
Voting will take place on March 31 and April 1. You can vote online at votesga.utk.edu.
Edited by Jessica Carr