Through Angelina Persaud, assistant news editor
Manhattan College’s Student Government Association (SGA) is placing mental health at the top of its upcoming agenda, alongside initiatives focused on uniting and supporting the college community.
The SGA Board of Directors has expressed great enthusiasm about campus life and the possible plans they have in store for students. Alixandria James, a senior public health major with a focus on health administration, serves as SGA’s vice president of academic affairs.
James told The Quadrangle that communication between students and SGA plays a crucial role in ensuring everyone’s needs are heard and addressed across the board.
“If I ever hear from other students, I always try to find out who to contact,” James said. “When we get an email from students on campus who want to do or change something, they get an answer within a few days as to when they can come to us. We are very open to new ideas, I would say.”
James also emphasized the importance of the mental health campaign and the ongoing plan to initiate the Jasper Day of Wellness for Spring 2023.
“My big project this year has actually been working on getting classes canceled so it can really be a wellness day,” James said. “So far, the president and the provost have been very open. We have already chosen a date in spring. We have been able to cancel courses that fall within a suitable range [time range].”
Wellbeing Day will feature a variety of discussion panels and activities throughout the day, encouraging students and faculty to prioritize their mental health throughout the semester.
James also spoke about the importance these initiatives will have in the future and how they can provide a healthy, clear path between administration and meeting student needs.
“We all come here to get an education, but for a lot of us we live here, it’s home,” James said. “We leave our families and come here, so I think it’s really important to see that not just the students care about their mental health, but that our faculty and our administrators care about our mental health.”
Calissa McNeely, Senior International Studies Major and SGA President, told The Quadrangle of the achievements the organization has made over the course of the semester. In particular, she highlighted the increase in communication between administration and SGA, Manhattan Madness and other annual events that have been successful to date.
“Something that student government has done internally is that we’ve now encouraged a better line of communication between our schools’ vice presidents and their deans,” McNeely said. “We meet regularly now. Manhattan madness was one where we worked with the athletics department and the recreation department and received student input on the t-shirt designs.”
McNeely emphasized the need for access to diverse offices and faculty members to ensure student needs are fully addressed.
“More accessible communication with different offices, different administrators, and also that access isn’t cherry-picked,” McNeely said. “It would be nice if the students knew all the options they have… and made sure they left here well prepared and used all the resources that were available to them here.”
John Bennett, Associate Vice President, Student Life, spoke about the efforts SGA has put into post-COVID event planning and how event planning has changed post-pandemic.
“I think SGA has been given a tougher job this year, which people are realizing since their budgets have been cut since the days before COVID, the number of groups has only increased since then,” Bennett wrote in an email to the Square. “Taking care of their already existing groups and clubs and initiatives, supporting the new ones, all on a smaller budget…but being fully operational personally, leading all these great events on and off campus is a balancing act that I do.” I don’t think SGA gets enough credit.”
Bennett also emphasized the upcoming events planned between Student Engagement and SGA and the hope that he will see the MC community come together and participate.
“As Madness is the busiest event of the fall semester, we know that Springfest will be happening for the spring, but until the students come back from winter break it seems to be uninterrupted up to this point,” Bennett wrote. “The Senior Class Reps, VP of Social Life and Board of Directors have also devoted significant time to ensuring that undergraduate and graduating class host a great series of events for seniors.”
Michael Steele, Associate Director of Student Engagement, told The Quadrangle that the connection between student engagement and SGA has played an important role in ensuring all activities are realizing the full potential for students.
“I am proud of how our student groups work together with each other and with different offices across campus. I want this to continue next semester,” Steele wrote in an email to the Quadrangle.
Members of SGA and Student Engagement encourage students and members of the MC community to attend upcoming events and immerse themselves in the realm of student life. Executives told The Quadrangle that they also encourage community members and students to have their say on the types of events they would like to attend so that everyone can have a holistic and enjoyable experience at MC.
“Our office is here to serve our students and give them a good experience, so it’s important that there is communication with our office and this usually takes the form of student administration to ensure students are able to attend the events have that they desire on campus. ‘ Bennett wrote.
“Our sole purpose as student government is to ensure that students have access and resources so that we can serve them,” McNeely said. “And if my student ever has an initiative that he would like to see campus, he is always more than welcome to come to our meetings.”
Student government meetings are held every other Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. and are open to all members of the MC community to attend.