GREENSBORO – UNCG Student Government Association (SGA) President Joseph Graham has a small office in the Elliott University Center, but his position as head of the executive branch of the university’s student government carries big responsibilities.
“In this session, I want to be more of a problem-solving body,” Graham commented about the association’s role in dealing with student concerns, including parking, dining services, advising and diversity and inclusion.
“What I want to do in this administration is make sure we are solving some of those issues,” Graham said. “Usually the [SGA] senate is good at finding those issues and addressing the issues that students have, but what we’re not so good about doing is making an effort to solve those and doing the groundwork that it takes and to improve those issues and challenges. That’s what I want to do a better job of doing.”
“Advising is one example of things that come up every semester,” Graham said. “A lot of times it can be rather vague concerns with which school has the most trouble with advising, or if it’s an issue of getting the classes that you need every semester, or if it’s advisor not being present if you need them, but advising is one big thing.”
Issues the SGA deals with are also driven by events outside of campus, such as the passage of bathroom law HB2 last spring.
“[HB2] was something last semester that came up a lot of the time,” says Graham. “In regards to our campus, how is that going to affect UNCG, what will it mean for our students who might identify as male or female, and so how are we going to navigate around these state laws?”
The SGA began discussions with the SGAs of other system schools over how to deal with the new law, but UNC’s decision not to enforce HB2 meant that no action was taken, says Graham.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting students involved with the SGA, says Graham. The SGA holds elections twice a year, once at the end of the spring semester and once at the beginning of the fall semester to fill any positions left open after the spring election.
“We were kind of desperate, actually, because after the first semester we didn’t have a lot of spots filled,” Graham commented. “So coming out of the summer and into this year, we had to do a lot of thinking as to how we can get a lot of students engaged with SGA and how we can get freshmen in touch with what we do and get involved in the campus through SGA.”
Graham says that while fall elections are almost over, there are other ways for students to get involved with the SGA.
“What students can do, especially if they’re in a student organization, is send a representative to SGA meetings,” Graham said.
The meetings include a student forum where students can raise any concerns or issues they have, says Graham.
The SGA meets on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in either Cone Ballroom or the Maple Room in the Elliott University Center. Students can also follow the SGA online at sga.uncg.edu.