On a campus as dynamic as Northeastern’s, things can change in a heartbeat. The decisions of our Student Government Association (SGA) often go unnoticed, even though they impact everyone on campus. As a student, the greatest opportunity to learn about SGA and make your voice heard is to vote in our student body elections. If elected, the New Horizons slate will emphasize the power of student voices and ensure that these never go unnoticed. We (Presidential candidate Rhea Tipnis and Executive Vice President candidate Abigail Sodergren) will use our combined advocacy and leadership experience to fulfill our three-pillared platform: we want to empower you, the students; engage with our Northeastern and Boston communities; and evolve the culture surrounding SGA.
That all sounds well and good, but what does it really mean?
New Horizons believes that students’s unique opinions, ideas, and voices are the most important and powerful asset of any college campus, but especially Northeastern’s. Students are the number one source of untapped potential. After all, the campus is built and run for them! We will create avenues for students to get their voices heard without needing SGA as a constant intermediary. Student government is a very important organization, but we recognize that it is not for everyone. To give a voice and platform to every student, we will use the benefits afforded to student government to host a wide variety of advocacy initiatives and outreach events, ensuring that every student’s thoughts are recognized. Electing the New Horizons slate will achieve this overarching goal as we implement our three-pillar approach.
Want to be able to talk to your college representative casually? New Horizons will implement “talk with your senator” events to do just that. Interested in advocating for specific change on campus? There’s a good chance that presidential candidate Tipnis has already implemented a monthly town hall focusing on it. Want to be passively informed about what Senate and SGA are up to? There are weekly “point of information” newsletters and an active Instagram, currently run by EVP candidate Sodergren and Tipnis, respectively. Maybe you’re a student who’s interested in SGA but intimidated by senate meetings (which is totally relatable)—New Horizons will create a senate environment where absolutely anyone is invited and welcome to express their opinions, present any problem they have been facing, or just listen. No matter which avenue you are most comfortable with, New Horizons will facilitate it to empower you.
While students are absolutely the first priority, we also recognize the many other people and communities with which Northeastern interacts. A vital but sometimes overlooked resource is the network of other Greater Boston Area schools that often face similar challenges. Through the Boston Intercollegiate Government (BIG), where Tipnis is currently Secretary, we will create great relationships with inspirational student leaders and administrators from other schools who can provide insight and leverage on common issues.
As nice as it would be for students to have more decision-making power at Northeastern, it is necessary to engage school faculty and administrators in SGA initiatives. We can effectively do so by identifying those who are most open and enthusiastic to work with SGA and by putting more emphasis on the recently established faculty senate representative. Further, in order for the university administration to run efficiently, it is imperative to consistently and directly provide them with student feedback both before and after decisions are made. We plan to establish “office hours” with key administrators that are open to all students as well as promote and expand upon the current advisory boards.
Beyond the campus, it is no secret that Northeastern has an impact on our surrounding neighborhoods. To steward the responsibility of that impact properly, we will establish a Community Service and Engagement Committee whose responsibility will be to do just that. SGA has huge power in numbers to create positive change in neighborhoods that many students live in, such as Roxbury, South Boston, and Mission Hill. This committee would consist of multiple project teams, such as a fundraising team or a service project team, each running their own initiatives to help the community around us. If you are a student who cares about the impact Northeastern has on our greater Boston community, know that our slate will tangibly address your concerns in this area.
Despite its current inefficiencies, SGA has recently been doing very important work, whether that’s sophomore integration events, conducting course revisions, promoting sustainability on campus, or holding deans and their colleges accountable for equity. It is important to highlight those accomplishments, among others, and the amazing student advocates spearheading them.
That being said, there’s work to be done. Firstly, we will ensure consistent standards for transition documents so that incoming leadership can focus on their initiatives rather than wasting time reinventing the wheel with strategies that have already been tried. We will also help to pass down institutional knowledge by establishing an SGA Alumni Advisory Board and creating consistent standards for transition documents so that incoming leadership can focus on their initiatives rather than wasting time reinventing the wheel with strategies that have already been tried.
We will make being a senator more impactful by providing resources to help senators communicate with constituents and by creating more sub-leadership roles within senate and SGA committees. To facilitate leadership development, students will be able to take on more committee-level leadership roles such as secretary or BIG representative. This creates more qualified candidates for leadership positions come internal elections in addition to providing more students with the opportunity to get involved in an impactful way that best suits them.
In the past, Senate meetings have been arduous (oftentimes taking over 4 hours). While the current administration has made a great deal of progress in the name of efficiency, we will continue to make improvements. We plan to make these meetings more meaningful by inviting guest speakers to whom students have specific interest in hearing from and by emphasizing the importance of succinctness to leadership.
Overall, empower, engage, and evolve is and always will be about our students because New Horizons is all about making Northeastern a place where communication is encouraged, transparency is expected, and accessibility is required.
More information about our platform, including detailed action items and goals, is available on the New Horizons website. Up-to-date information is also available on the New Horizons Instagram. SGA voting is now open, meaning you can vote to make meaningful change on and off- campus at bit.ly/vote-newhorizons.