By Molli DeRosa ’21
I identify with a lot of different traits in the Emerson community: I am a student, a creator, and an advocate. On April 3 and 4, I plan on adding another trait to that list. I will be a voter.
I’m not speaking about the midterm or presidential elections, as those are still a long way off. I’ll be voting on a more local level, in my own community. I’m talking about the Student Government Association (SGA) elections.
Each semester, the organization holds elections to fill its positions on the Board, Executive Board, and Senate. This year, the elections will take place on April 3 and 4 through an online form on SGA’s website.
Student Government, in the words of the organization’s executive president, Jess Guida, is “an avenue to creating real change at Emerson.” Students who serve in SGA act directly as the conduits between the student body and administration. Each year, the SGA Senate– designated liaisons for each academic department — produces its own Academic Initiatives, which directly bring academic concerns to faculty members. Students on SGA have a unique ability to be the primary drivers of conversation and authentic, tangible change.
In a Campus Life poll of 476 students, only 45.17 percent of students planned to vote in the SGA elections, 38.24 percent did not plan on voting, and 16.6 percent were not aware there was an election, as of Monday, April 1.
Less than half of students actually plan on voting. Why is that?
For one, many seniors think they’re ineligible to vote since they are graduating. To clear this up: Seniors, you can still vote!
Other students, however, don’t intend to vote solely because they don’t know what the organization does. One junior Theater and Performance student said they “don’t see SGA’s influence on campus besides deciding who gets money.” Many are wondering how exactly the Student Government is improving life for the student body.
I currently serve as the Journalism senator on SGA, and will until the end of this semester. In my short yet fruitful time working with the organization, I’ve learned a substantial amount about the colossal size of the footprint it has made on campus.
SGA, above all, has access: to academic departments, to the Board of Trustees, to the budget for student organizations, to name just a few things. Members of SGA have truly maximized this access with the student body constantly in mind. They’ve provided input on college-wide projects, such as the new Student Center at 172 Tremont Street, Voice Your Choice, the ERA Awards, and Communication Days, Guida said.
SGA members are advocates for financial affordability in the college. The organization rolled out the Financial Accountability Initiative in 2018, which has made impacts on student aid for those in attendance at Emerson Los Angeles, and requires that course costs are listed on the catalog, Guida explained. They’ve assumed the responsibility of granting funds for student organizations from a carefully managed budget of $800,000. They’ve even re-established a scholarship.
Student Government at Emerson has worked to maintain a sense of campus community at a college completely intertwined within a city environment and the “real world.” They’ve established an Academic Town Hall, where students and faculty could come together to address concerns in a more formal setting.
Long story short, they have power. They get stuff done. They work for students.
Kaitlyn Bryson, a sophomore Public Relations major, is voting for this reason.
“Oftentimes, as Emersonians, we complain about the decisions the administration is making but neglect to stand up and fight on behalf of the student body,” Bryson said. “This is exactly what SGA does.”
SGA has made the absolute most of their access to resources, and have made great strides in supporting their classmates. It’s not just their work that’s noteworthy, though. It’s their drive, their motivation, their desire to enhance and refine.
Having been present in Joint Session — the weekly meeting of the Executive Board, senators, and commissioners — I’ve witnessed firsthand the commitment and fervor of each member to take action on issues students care about.
“[Student Government] allows students a seat at the table, and that seat at the table gives them agency over their educational experience at this institution,” Guida explained.
Elections give the Emerson community a say in who pulls up a chair.
“You, as our constituents, have the opportunity to decide who gets to represent you,” noted Nicole Poitras, the Assistant Public Relations Chair appointed this year. “If you want change, if you want things to happen, this is your chance to elect people who you think will make it happen.”
SGA is merely an extension of the student body who want to make changes. Anthony Rodriguez, the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Senator, wants students to recognize that after all, this is student government.
“We are all here because we care about Emerson and its students,” Rodriguez said. “I think if we as a student body are out there advocating for change in the real world, we should also be doing it here at Emerson first.”
There’s no better way to advocate for change at Emerson than to support those who have a desire and drive to make it. Those individuals are running for Student Government. Vote for those who are going to support you, academically and financially.
Executive President Jess Guida knows that this is just as important as voting in your hometown or presidential election.
“Your voices matter, so use them!”
Students can begin voting on April 3 and can do so until April 4 at 11:59 pm. Go online to www.emersonsga.org/vote to cast your ballot.
Molli DeRosa is a Journalism major, SGA senator, and an Emerson Today student reporter.