By Jada Butler
The Student Government Association (SGA) underwent a leadership change at the beginning of the spring 2019 semester. Olivia Kavanaugh, senior art education major, stepped down as president and assumed the vice president role. Erica Ferrara, senior geology and environmental sustainability major and the former SGA vice president, was voted to replace her. The vote to switch the roles was made by the SGA senate members.
Kavanaugh said she stepped down because she could not completely devote her time to SGA. “With student teaching, I do not even have access to my phone until about 3 p.m. every day. I felt that that was unfair to my senators, my e-board and the student body that the student leading them wasn’t even able to be present or accessible until late in the day,” she said.
Kavanaugh will do more “behind the scenes” work as vice president, a role she held during the 2017-2018 academic year.
“I have no doubt she’ll put her everything into being SGA President,” Kavanaugh said about Ferrara, saying that she is “very reliable.”
Ferrara was voted into the position as president by the senators. Her new responsibilities include overseeing the Senate and working with the e-board to come up with a sustainable action plan for the semester. The President and Vice President work closely with one another and with the administration.
Ferrara said there are many events lined up for the spring. There will be a Town Hall on March 26 in the Krasnoff Theater with a panel of representatives from athletics, LIU Promise, Kumble Hall, Aramark, and public safety. They will also hold a networking lunch for student organizations to encourage collaboration and celebrate their successes over the last year.
SGA will also conduct a survey that gauges the opinions of students on various areas of the university with questions regarding academics, administration, campus safety, infrastructure, food quality, Title IX issues, and faculty and staff. Ferrara said the survey will help SGA formulate goals for the next academic year and help communicate with the appropriate administrative parties on specific issues affecting the student body.
SGA is also working on creating a student guidebook with tips and up to date department information. “This guidebook is still in the works and will contain key resources and contact information as well as fun and informative tips (from students) for living on campus, and getting involved as a commuter,” Ferrara said. There is no estimated release date for the guidebook.
The March 26 Town Hall will be the first SGA event this semester, though events regarding student engagement and feedback such as the “Ask the Dean” series, have already been organized by Dean of Students Michael Berthel and his newly created Dean’s Advisory Council. The Dean’s Advisory Council, a body composed of seven students selected by Berthel, after recommendations from success coaches and enrollment advisors, gives Berthel feedback on how to better student life on campus.
SGA, which is a governing body elected by students, is not affiliated with the Dean’s Council, according to Ferrara. “We have not, as of yet, been super involved in this initiative,” she said.
Berthel has worked with SGA in the past to coordinate town halls, meetings and events with members of the Division of Student Life, which includes Enrollment Services, LIU Promise, Conference and Guest Services, Center for Healthy Living, and the Learning Support Center. “I congratulate Erica on her new leadership role and wish her the best of luck as President. My door is always open for SGA to discuss how I can support their efforts. I look forward to working with Erica and the SGA on issues that are important to students,” Berthel said.
SGA meets every Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Hillwood Commons room 121. Students are welcome to attend meetings and to share their ideas or concerns.