The importance of students’ voices: Student Government’s plans for the year

AddThis

Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

Student Government’s platform for the upcoming school year has seven points to fulfill the idea of “UT Led By You,” the campaign slogan for student body president and vice president Camron Goodman and Amie Jean. 

The plan involves adding more professor diversity training, growing the Counselors in Academic Residence program, working with UT Senate of College Councils to increase interpersonal violence prevention training, expanding SURE Walk, laying the groundwork for a nontraditional student center and creating a continuity committee to help policies last beyond one administration’s term. 

Goodman, a finance senior, said SG wants to empower students so they limited the amount of SG initiatives to leave room for other students’ ideas. 

“Our experience on campus has really shown us the importance of students’ voices,” Goodman said. “We really believe this university is great, but what makes it the best are students who can create change.” 

The administration started working on diversity tags for professors, Goodman said. These would be special tags on syllabi and course registration pages to show professors have undergone specific training on diversity-related topics such as pronouns, immigration and race. Diversity training already exists, but these tags show students their professors understand diversity matters. Goodman said these tags show students that SG can make changes students can see. 

Advocacy director Nikita Telang said her team was ahead of schedule on this initiative. 

“We worked really hard over the summer as a team so we could start working with faculty to modify (the proposal for the tags),” psychology junior Telang said. “We want to make it something we can all push forward.”

Jean, a finance senior, said the platform’s initiatives are geared toward making students’ classroom experiences more comfortable. 

“We know the academic experience is crucial,” Jean said. “It’s the reason we go to the University of Texas.” 

To create this good experience, the platform point of interpersonal violence prevention training includes working on Title IX accommodations so that assault survivors with no-contact directives do not have to sit in class with their attacker, Jean said. 

Goodman and Jean also plan to expand SURE Walk so that it can transport more students, including those with injuries, across campus.

“If you twist your ankle and you’re on crutches, it’s hard to navigate campus,” Jean said. “That’s something I can speak to, with the slow progression into me using a wheelchair. I did not want to go to class when I was limping.”

A center for nontraditional students, Goodman said, would empower those who often do not have a voice, such as transfer students, older students, veteran students and students with children. Goodman said he related to feeling left out as a transfer student himself. 

“If you don’t feel welcomed in class or other places, you can feel welcomed in this space,” Jean said. “Space is relevant.”

Since they only have one term to institute these ideas, Goodman and Jean created a continuity committee within Student Government and plan to
continue some of last year’s initiatives.

Goodman said these ideas are designed with every student in mind so that all students feel welcomed and supported at UT.

“We’re not trying to change what they think or what they like,” Goodman said. “We’re just trying to institute a vision that’s particular about individuals and (that) we want them in class.”