SGA executives discuss their impact
World AIDS Day celebrations are being brought to campus today and Friday. UNAIDS/G. Pirozzi
After residing over the SGA senate for a year, President Iqra Ahmad and Vice President Leah Tilson are passing the gavel.
"It's been a great trip," Tilson said. "I was crying in our last senate meeting."
A lot has happened in the last school year for SGA, but clearly the biggest has been the reinstating of the football program to ETSU.
"One of our main campaign promises was to increase school spirit and get more students involved," Ahmad said. "I feel like football is part of the [American] culture, and just talking to students around campus, it seemed like they were ready to have a team and have more pride."
Ahmad noted that athletic attendance was at its highest this year. With ETSU President Brian Noland strongly urging the university to make changes, they felt the time was ripe for an attempt to bring back the sport.
"Dr. Noland, before the [winter] term really began ... took us out for lunch," Tilson said. "He said to us, '25 years from now, what do you want to say that you did on this campus in your administration?' We want people to be proud of ETSU, and we thought [football] was the way to do that."
Tilson and Ahmad reviewed the possible information and implications of football for months. When all was said and done, they were both firmly in favor of the program, and decided to draw up the legislation. Even though they knew there would be some opposition, it was still surprising when the feedback started to roll in.
"I stayed up until four in the morning for three days straight when the football thing was going on," Ahmad said. "And I replied to every single [email] I got."
At the beginning of their term, the two women pushed for a large event right away. Singer Josh Turner came to ETSU Aug. 26, and started what they hope will become a tradition: Welcome Week.
"It started out by saying, 'Well let's have country because we haven't in a while,'" Ahmad said. "When we selected Josh Turner we said, 'Why don't we make it an outdoor event?' and it went from there."
The biggest difference Turner's early appearance made was a movement of money. Usually the biggest concert funds were reserved for the middle of the semester. The Welcome Week event took the same financial effort as those mid-term shows in the past.
"[Turner's concert] turned into our major concert," Tilson said. "So Girl Talk came in the middle of the semester, and that was cheaper ... while other people thought that was our main concert, financially speaking it was really Josh Turner."
SGA has passed other pieces of legislation throughout the year, such as an anti-bullying legislation and fixing the pothole on J. L. Seehorn Jr. Road. There were also a bill passed in response to the massive football reaction that will now make senators' contact information available. This was done in hopes of making SGA members more accessible.
One of the more recent constitutional changes made by the Student Government was the decision to allow the general public into concerts.
Train's arrival at ETSU signaled the first of many concerts that will include the community of and around Johnson City.
"We knew in general that we wanted the students to be involved on campus," Tilson said. "But we had to get the community. If you don't have the community and the alumni to back you up, then your students aren't going to see the proof of ... these events."
Ahmad and Tilson are sad to go, but pleased with the things they have done as a part of ETSU.
"I never knew how much went into the school," Ahmad said. "These people are so passionate about what the students are doing ... [ETSU] deserves more respect."
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