Matt Epting and Sarah Campbell have bold ideas that will make the University of Oklahoma a better place. And they need your help. Since 1969, student government at OU has allowed students to organize and make a difference in their education. Whenever students come together with a common purpose, big things happen. Matt and Sarah want to harness the power of SGA's platform to empower students to create change. Learn more about their initiatives for the upcoming year.
For the last year, SGA has been at the forefront of the fight for increased funding for higher education in Oklahoma. It's time to take our advocacy efforts to the next level and make a statement with the citizens of Oklahoma that OU is an integral part of life in our state.
We want to create Stronger Oklahoma - a statewide advocacy network of citizens and businesses who believe in the cause of higher education. Because this isn't just our cause as students - the University of Oklahoma provides immense benefits to every corner of our state.
Our university faces a fiscal crisis due to the reduction in funding from the state Legislature. This could lead to devastating increases to tuition and fees. We want to join our voice with the voices of citizens all across Oklahoma to tell our lawmakers that higher education must be a priority in the budget. That means phone calls, emails, lobbying visits, and more. We want to put pressure on lawmakers and let them know that voters want to elect leaders who support the University of Oklahoma.
Our inspiration for this network is Onward California, a campaign created by the University of California system for a similar purpose. Check it out below.
Parking sucks. Everyone knows it. Availability of accessible parking is severely limited on our campus. In fact, it's the #1 complaint students pass along to SGA year after year. But parking garages and new lots are prohibitively expensive. So how do we solve this problem?
Well, if we can't change the number of spaces, we figure we can do something about the number of cars.
We want to work on developing a web-based rideshare program specifically for OU students. Instead of driving by themselves each day, students could be paired with other students that live in their vicinity and carpool together. We think it could reduce parking congestion, traffic, gas costs, and even carbon emissions. Consider these numbers:
If just 100 students (that's 0.33% of the entire student body) used a rideshare program to find rides with other students every day for a semester, we would save an estimated:
- 900 gallons of gas
- $2,700 in fuel costs
- 8.55 tons of carbon emissions
- 100 cars worth of traffic
- 100 occupied parking spaces
It's a win-win. Let's do it.
In 2009, the Faculty Senate reviewed the Dead Week policy and decided not to revisit the issue again until 2014. Well, time's up, and we think there should be some adjustments.
Currently, classes are in session for all of Dead Week, and assignments, projects, and tests can be given during the first 3 days provided they do not represent more than 10% of the final grade. Though that doesn't look like a major portion of the final grade, we all know that sometimes this can represent a large workload that can get in the way of critical exam studying time.
We want to work with our partners in the Faculty Senate to find a reasonable solution that will reduce student workloads, and we will propose changing the final two days of Dead Week - when no assignments may be due and little instruction is given - into reading days where no classes are held. Several other schools have a similar policy.
While we're mindful of faculty instructional schedules, we want to make sure students are positioned for success and able to study most effectively to prepare for finals. Compromise is possible, and that's what SGA is all about.
We think one of the best ways to develop relationships and stimulate the mind is by reading a book and discussing it with others. This model has been extremely successful in the Honors College Reading Group program, where hundreds of students meet weekly in dozens of groups. We want to take this idea to the next level with a campus-wide reading group over one book - hence,One Campus, One Book.
We want to select a major, accessible book and encourage students, faculty, and staff to form small groups and discuss it with one another. We'll read the book together as a campus during the course of one semester. At the end of the semester, we'll organize a forum with speakers who will bring the whole experience together.
It's a simple idea, but it's an idea that can go a long way toward strengthening our community and stimulating intellectual vitality at OU. Let's start a common conversation across our campus.
Think of a time you've had a problem or confusion with OU administration. Maybe you were struggling with the Financial Aid office. Or your insurance wasn't going through at Goddard. Or perhaps your professor had an unfair policy and you didn't know where to turn.
We have created the SGA Advocacy Team (or the "A-Team" for short) that will work on your behalf to find a solution when you have a problem with OU. They are a team of caseworkers who take on requests sent in by students online or via phone. Within 2 business days of a request, the A-Team will begin investigating the situation and will find a solution or connect students to other resources within one week.
SGA exists to serve as a link between students and administration. We want to leverage the elevated position and connections of SGA to make a better student experience for everyone. The A-Team will be active in making SGA work with you and for you.
One of SGA's most important tasks is supporting our 400+ registered student organizations (RSOs), who connect thousands of students to their career paths, hobbies, and everything in between. Here are a few of our ideas to strengthen them:
STUDENT ORGANIZATION ADVISING
Many of our student organizations are large, visible, and thriving, but sometimes other organizations might experience some challenges and don't know where to turn. We want to dedicate members of the SGA Department of Student Organizations to serve as "consultants" for these organizations. When an RSO asks for help, these consultants will take on their case and give recommendations for fundraising, governance, recruitment, programming, or any other aspects of the organization with which they need guidance. We want to make sure all of our RSOs are equipped to be the best they can be because each one offers a unique, valuable contribution to our campus.
RSO PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
We think one of the best ways to make the most of your OU experience is to join a registered student organization. Many students, however, are not aware of the wide variety of groups available for them to join. We want to create the "myRSO" campaign, which will use social media and other publicity methods to showcase various organizations and emphasize the value of organization involvement to the student body. RSOs are the cornerstone of a vibrant campus atmosphere, so we want to make everyone feel invested in them.
PROMOTE THE EXISTING CAMPUS CALENDAR
A lot of students have expressed the desire for a comprehensive campus calendar with all organization events, from Greek philanthropies to international student festivals to community service days. But many students are unfamiliar with our existing campus calendar, which the university's Web Communications department manages. We want to work with Web Communications to promote this valuable resource so student organizations and Greek chapters understand how to use it and how it can help make scheduling and programming simpler across our campus.
SGA's #1 job is to advocate for all students. So we want to make sure everyone is represented appropriately. We have expanded the Department of International Student Affairs into the Department of Special Communities, where we will ensure representation for international students, student veterans, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, and other communities that have unique concerns that deserve attention. We believe that the diversity of our campus is one of the most important characteristics of the Sooner family, and we want to leverage the power of SGA's platform to ensure that these students' needs are met.
City and State Advocacy
SGA is the voice of the student body of the University of Oklahoma - a community 30,000+ members strong that has unique needs not only within our university, but also as residents of Norman and the state of Oklahoma. We have committed to have an SGA representative attend every Norman City Council meeting and key open meetings at the state Capitol to ensure we stay engaged with our local and state governments.
Graduate Student Representation
Nearly 10,000 graduate students attend the University of Oklahoma and, accordingly, are members of SGA. They even have their own branch of the legislature - the Graduate Student Senate. However, they have traditionally been underrepresented in the executive branch. We reached out to grad students when we chose our Cabinet, ensuring their contributions and needs are valued in SGA.