SGA as student advocates in the year ahead

Matthew von Nida and Cristina Vera
October 15, 2014

Three years ago, I made my first tuition down payment at DePaul - an investment in higher education that I knew would nurture my aspirations. I have been volunteering in soup kitchens, campaigns and nature reserves ever since I can remember. The moment I learned about the Vincentian mission and DePaul's commitment to community service, I knew I was home.

Three years later, I am humbled to take on the role of president of the Student Government Association, alongside Cristina Vera as vice president.  The Vincentian mission that drove me to DePaul's classrooms is exactly what drives Cristina and me every day in our work to advocate on behalf of students. Over the summer, we developed a list of ten initiatives to confront the famous Vincentian question, "What must be done?" As many of you know, higher education is changing - and quickly. Students today face great challenges - from issues of the rising costs of education to concerns of sustainability.

In response to St. Vincent's famous question, St. Louise de Marillac would promptly reply, "Dare we hope?" DePaul is a special place where we have high hopes and endless aspirations. It is through this that SGA will advance all 10 of our initiatives throughout the year:

EDUCATIONAL AFFORDABILITY

Voice student concerns about rising tuition costs, advocate to enhance scholarship opportunities on DePaul's Academic Works scholarship portal, and advance efforts to expand affordable textbook options. A major focus will continue our efforts to advocate for the restoration of the Monetary Award Program, known as MAP.  

STUDENT VOICE

Elevate SGA's role as well-informed liaisons between students and administration through representation on university boards, task forces, and committees. SGA members will become experts in their respective fields of representation in order to enhance interactive conversations made possible through meetings, social media, emails and an accessible SGA website.

DEPAUL AFFINITY AND TRADITION

Advance a vibrant university community that strengthens institutional pride among students, faculty, administrators, alumni and community members. Efforts should be made to further institutionalize DePaul traditions such as Blue Demon Week, and better recognize other existing Blue Demon traditions.

INCLUSIVITY AND OPPORTUNITY

Uphold and celebrate the university's distinctive Catholic, Vincentian and urban identity. Recognize that the Vincentian mission fosters a diverse population of first generation, low income students and students from all walks of life at DePaul. SGA will work to strengthen new opportunities to enhance higher education as a means to encourage service to deprived members of society in Chicago and beyond.

ACCESSIBLE COURSE EVALUATIONS

Further current pursuits to make quantitative data from course evaluations accessible to DePaul students. This institutional effort will work to increase the quality of education overall.

SUSTAINABILITY

Further the Vincentian mission by working to decrease the human global footprint. Efforts of sustainability should consider a multifaceted model by implementing environmental, social and economic practices across the university.

SGA AS A LEADER IN CHICAGO AND ILLINOIS

Expand DePaul SGA's existing connection with student governments across Chicago and Illinois, as well as connect with state leaders regarding issues of rising education costs, financial aid, textbook affordability and other statewide student concerns. 

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Engage with municipal, state, and federal government officials and organizations to further DePaul's position as the premier institution of Chicago. In a school year of municipal and midterm elections, SGA will encourage students to become civically engaged by voting. Student concerns should be at the forefront of public policy.

TRANSPARENCY

Work with administration to provide transparent information about budget processes, university projects and leadership transitions. Transparency of information should consider accessibility of language and be present through various outlets.

STUDENT WELL-BEING

Foster an environment of healthy living for students on and off campus. SGA will collaborate with various university departments to offer opportunities and resources to DePaul's diverse student population. Efforts will be made to promote and improve upon existing health services.

We look forward to advocating for students in the year ahead.

Go Blue Demons!

 

Matthew von Nida is president of SGA. Cristina Vera is vice president.