By Emily Tanner
“We do a lot behind the scenes and our members are highly involved,” says Kyla Engleman, the current president of Western’s Student Government Association (SGA).
As the spring semester kicks into full gear, Engleman notes that SGA has decided to restructure its regular meeting schedule.
General assembly meetings will now be held biweekly on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the University Center (UC) South Conference Room. Previously, SGA’s General Assembly met weekly at 7 p.m.
“Everyone is welcome to come to our meetings, and hopefully our new format will make it more inviting,” says SGA’s current president Kyla Engleman, who adds that 15 minutes at the start of each meeting are reserved for general student feedback.
The body’s scheduling change is coming after an unconventional start to the body’s school year.
“We started with a crew of about half of our typical members, but we got [the vacant positions] filled within the first three weeks,” explains Engleman.
A full SGA board includes five executive positions, eleven advisory members, and thirteen senators.
Engleman notes that the broad, overarching trend of student disinterest across campus — which she attributes to the COVID-19 pandemic — dominated the fall semester.
Despite the slow start, Engleman notes that SGA was successful in following through with its directives.
A flurry of legislation
Notably, the organization granted $19,000 to the Safe Ride program — $9,000 from designated bill money and an additional $10,000 from SGA’s reserve account.
Gunnison Saferide, which provides free shuttle services to students and others in the local community to prevent inebriated driving, has been supported by SGA funding for decades.
Another SGA bill grants $520 to send four club sports members to the annual National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) conference.
SGA also covered half the cost of mugs for the EPIC program to participate in the Night of Lights, a community holiday event held in downtown Gunnison back in December. The event saw more than 90 students turn out to meet with their EPIC mentors and interact with the greater Gunnison community.
Additionally, two bills that were initially created last semester have carried over into the spring. The first piece of legislation will provide $2,500 in funding to the club lacrosse team so that they can buy official collegiate goals, as well as a shot clock.
The second bill will appropriate $2,500 in conjunction with the Gunnison Food Pantry to help support the creation of the “Mountaineer Market,” a food bank space on campus intended for student accessibility and food education.
The Mountaineer Market will hopefully open in February on the bottom floor of the library — helping address a broader food insecurity issue that has plagued the university and its students.
In light of recent towing issues amid regular snow removal, a bill has been assigned for creation that would utilize parking stickers to help the university communicate better with students about parking issues. Notably, parking will remain free on campus.
Those with cars that are registered with the college would receive a sticker and be notified via phone call or email should they need to move their vehicles. Students can expect the bill to be implemented as soon as the 2023 fall semester.
SGA has also assigned a request to help fund this year’s iteration of the popular Rail Jam event, which features skiers and snowboarders competing to navigate a series of rails and jumps on the Taylor Lawn, in coordination with Western’s Program Council. The annual contest will be held on Feb. 10.
Engaging the student body
With $6,745 remaining in bill money, Engleman stresses, “If anyone is looking for funding for an initiative or activity, they [can] go through our bill request [form] on the Western SGA homepage.”
Once a request is received, an SGA representative will meet with the requestor to write it. Completed bills go through the SGA Senate (elected student representatives) and Advisory Board (comprised of program ambassadors and directors).
Engleman says her biggest hope for the Spring 2023 semester is for more students to get involved with the SGA process.
In addition to changes to the group’s scheduling, SGA also plans on holding elections sooner in the semester and training incoming members ahead of time.
This semester, applications will open on March 20 and close on April 3. Campaigning occurs the following week with elections being held April 10-14.
“We are the place for student voices to be heard … moving forward, we’re going to work harder to try and get students to come in,” notes Engleman.
With student involvement in mind, the SGA hopes that holding meetings every other week will attract students with tight schedules.
“I’m really looking forward to adjusting our schedule and hopefully it works out so that we’re able to make a better direct impact from student government,” says Engleman.
Students can learn more about Western’s SGA — and follow along for updates — on their webpage and on Instagram. You can also reach them by email with questions, concerns, or to request information about joining via email at SGA@western.edu.