What SGA Executive Council officers have done this year

Kayla Solino | @kaylasolino, Staff Reporter

The Student Government Association Executive Council members are nearing the end of their terms as spring elections approach on March 8

All eight executive positions were uncontested last election season. The eight candidates sat down with The Crimson White in March 2021 to lay out their qualifications and goals for the position. 

“We believe we have accomplished these goals, leaving a legacy of servant leadership within SGA that we hope will continue in years to come,” press secretary Olivia Davis said. 

Davis said all eight Executive Council members would be unavailable to speak with The Crimson White prior to publication. 

Here are some of the legislation and initiatives that have been put forth by current executive officers.

Jillian Fields, president

In an interview with The Crimson White last year, Fields said her primary goal was to unify campus. She intended to focus her efforts on connection and inclusion. 

“My overall goal is really just to bring campus together and make sure that everyone feels as though their voices are heard,” Fields said. 

Fields authored a resolution on Feb. 3  with Sen. Collier Dobbs to guarantee the constitutional right to vote for all Tuscaloosa residents. This came after the Tuscaloosa City Council voted to change the date for municipal elections to May when students are typically on break. 

As president, Fields also oversees the Executive Council’s initiatives.

Sam Rickert, executive vice president 

Rickert said last year that mental health and COVID-19 were some of the largest issues facing campus. 

“I hope to improve the student experience through my two platform points, which is student access and student advancement. I would try to get freshmen to leave this college in four years and still have the same experience of someone that graduated before COVID-19 had,” Rickert said. 

Rickert presented a resolution in October, alongside Sens. Cameron Doyle and Lauren Parker, that commended UA transportation services for the addition of Veo bikes on campus. 

He also encouraged students to get their flu vaccination for the 2021-2022 year in a Sept. 30 resolution authored with Sen. Sims Johnson. 

Jack Steinmetz, vice president for student affairs

Steinmetz noted in an interview last year that mental health was a struggle on campus and said he wanted to support students. 

“I hope to be there to support them with the mental health aspect, work with that council to input programming to address mental health issues on our campus, but also want students to get involved on our campus,” Steinmetz said. 

Steinmetz promoted WellTrack, a mental health app, on social media. WellTrack is an interactive mental health app designed to help students manage health and wellbeing using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy while also providing on campus resources. 

The student affairs team is currently contacting local businesses to create a discount card for students who earn a 4.0 GPA or higher and receive a spot on the president’s list. 

The student affairs team held Wellness Week Jan. 24-28. During the week, the team provided programs and initiatives for students based on the Alabama Model of Student Health and Wellbeing.

Amanda Allen, vice president for academic affairs

Allen also said in an interview last year that mental health was a concern on campus. 

“I hope to equip students with the resources and tools that they need to combat academic-related stress and hope to inspire a sense of togetherness through the position,” Allen said. 

Allen helped to centralize the UA Academic Resource Guide as well as college specific resources onto a downloadable document to help create better access for students.

She partnered with the UA Office of Information Technology to facilitate the transition from Google to Microsoft earlier this year. The transition was designed to influence workforce readiness for students. 

Sullivan Irvine, vice president for financial affairs 

Before the 2021 elections, Irvine said students lacked financial literacy and real-life finance skills. 

“In this position, I really hope to increase real-world preparation for students in regard to financial literacy, I hope to implement an auction to raise scholarship funding, and I would really like to spread awareness about career fairs, job opportunities and occupational preparation,” Irvine said. 

Irvine approved the student organization funding requests that were reviewed by the Financial Affairs Committee. 

Madeline Martin, vice president for external affairs

Last year, Martin hoped to create a better on-campus experience for students. 

“I think we can grow this and provide fresher options for Bama Dining by also creating new jobs and new opportunities for the University and students who can have that hands-on experience,” Martin said. 

Martin established a farm initiative with the UA Arboretum to provide fresh produce to students in need. After the produce is grown and harvested, it is stored in a freezer in the UA Student Center, and students can take what they need. 

She helped create a Tuscaloosa food tour that allows students to pick up a food tour card in the SGA office. After students stop by 10 locations to complete their card, they can receive a Taco Mama discount card. 

Martin and the external affairs team hosted Civic Engagement Week during the week of Oct. 8-12. The week ended with the podcast “Pantsuit Politics” holding a live show on campus. “Pantsuit Politics” is an American political podcast hosted by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers. 

She worked with the Alabama Panhellenic Association to distribute angel shot flyers throughout local Tuscaloosa businesses for increased safety measures. The angel shot campaign is a women’s safety initiative that local bars and restaurants partake in. Customers who feel in danger can order a specific drink for an accompanied action by the bartender in an effort to lessen harassment and assault. 

Colin Marcum, executive secretary 

Marcum said a loss of unity faced campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic and said it is the SGA’s responsibility to promote community. Last year, he said he hoped to increase transparency with students. 

“I want communication within and about SGA to be more transparent. To accomplish this, I will work with the director of communications and the press secretary to frequently update the student body on what SGA is implementing,” Marcum said. 

Marcum handled the implementation of Notion, the SGA initiative tracker proposed earlier this year by Sen. Andrew Bregman. The initiative tracker allows senators to see legislation that has already been proposed and worked on. He also created an SGA Newsletter that launched in late September 2021. 

Lauren Gilonske, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion

Last year, Gilonske said polarization on campus is a problem. 

“Disparities, ideologies, belief systems and opinions are becoming more and more indicative of someone’s personal identity, which can become difficult with facilitating conversations of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Gilonske said. “I really want to push to be inclusive through our diversity and inclusion training and programming initiatives that are put out by this position.” 

Gilonske helped the Black Student Leadership Council host the 2021 Toy Ball in November. Over 200 individuals attended the event to support children in need in the Tuscaloosa community. 

She held a 9/11 ribbon event with the Veteran and Military Affairs Office.

Gilonske also helped create a Transgender Week of Awareness wall located outside of the SGA office, which educated students about notable members of the transgender community and local resources. 

The diversity, equity and inclusion team is currently hosting the second annual One UA Week, a week dedicated to combating hate speech and bias.

This story was updated on Feb. 22, to credit Madeline Martin for a piece of legislation that was previously attributed to Amanda Allen. 

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