Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Fowler reflects on his tenure as president

As one presidency is about to begin and make its mark on the University of Alabama, another is drawing to a close and leaving its legacy behind.

Over the last year, the UA student body has seen Student Government Association president James Fowler lead the SGA and form his legacy, focusing on uniting the student body and not leaving anyone out.

“With every decision we made over the last year we made it considering people who don’t always have a seat at the leadership table,” Fowler said. “If we don’t do everything we can to leave this place better then we found it, how are we going to sleep at night?”

When Fowler and the rest of the 2010-11 SGA came into office, they inherited turmoil. Last year’s SGA, led by Steven Oliver, had used University funds without proper authorization to travel to the National Championship Game in Pasadena.

“I certainly think we entered our administration with many perceptions that we had to work through,” Folwer said. “We were coming off of the months of Pasadena and so we had a lot of work to do with gaining students’ trust back and beginning to earn our way to change perception.

“A lot of that we were able to do by showing that we were going to be completely transparent and showing them that we were going to do whatever it took to earn the students’ trust back,” he said. “The student government is not worth anything if you don’t have the students’ trust. And so that was our main goal coming in and I think throughout the year we were able to earn the students’ trust back.”

Fowler explained that in order to correct the damage done in the Pasadena incident, the SGA pledged to post all SGA finances publicly.

“Transparency is one of the first things that we tackled,” Fowler said. “And people wanted to know where the SGA was spending money. That was a big thing, especially at the beginning of the term, and so we said, listen, we are going to put everything we’ve got online, every penny that we spend and every nickel, every dime. You can track it all on the SGA website. That was the first time the SGA had ever done that.” Along with gaining the trust of the student body through transparency, Fowler and his administration have focused on accountability and inclusivity.

“James acknowledged it was time for a more transparent, accountable and inclusive student government at UA,” SGA Press Secretary Katie Breaseale said. “By making those three principles the foundation of his term, James was effective at achieving all three. All events and initiatives from the past year echo those three principles.”

During his presidential term, Fowler implemented the three standards and put them into motion throughout campus.

“As far as inclusivity, I think we came right out of the gates in the fall with changing the name of block seating to student organization seating and changing some of the rules and regulations, which tightened the selection process and then actively recruiting organizations that had not traditionally sat in block seating,” Fowler said.

“I felt like that was certainly a symbol of division in our student body every Saturday,” Fowler said. “You would go to the student section and you would have one group of students on one side and one on the other and I wanted to begin the process of bridging those gaps.”

In terms of inclusivity, the Fowler administration didn’t stop at stadium seating.

“What made James’ term so successful is that he included students from every corner of campus,” Breaseale said. “By having a diverse student government, we were better able to represent our student body, listen to their concerns and make a change for the better.”

Fowler’s administration also worked on a yearly endowment fund for student scholarships, the 348-RIDE Express program, the Ride to the Tide and several other new programs.

Fowler encouraged next years SGA to continue the foundation his administration had laid out.

“My advice for Grant and next year’s SGA is to continue to fight for an SGA that will take up those three principles, transparency, accountability and inclusivity,” he said. “If you can have a government that works with those three, they will be successful.”

The new SGA for 2011-12 will be inaugurated on April 5 at 5 p.m.


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