Letter to the Editor: Encouraging the student voice

Since 1969, the Rider Student Government Association (SGA) has been an essential part of the Rider community. Over the past 50 years, manydi erent students have been a part of various executive boards, cabinetsand senates, but the purpose of the SGA has not changed. From the founding of SGA, the most important responsibility of the organization is to represent the ideas and opinions of Rider students. Today, the current executiveboard still embodies the value of leading students toward a complete universityexperience. The SGA recognizes the diverse community that Rider hosts and strives to include every member from that community in university decisions. A university should challenge students to engage as members of a greater community but, to truly be a community, a level of open communication must be established. We, as a student government, are grounded in creating a contemporary university where the student body defines its present and future. However, this can only be achieved when the community is communicating their wants and needs. SGA and many organizations on campus serve as a liaison for students to communicate those desires to the university administration and, in return, for the administration to understand student perspective on decisions.

As American author and former business executive Seth Godin once said, “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work,” and we believe that student organizations are that platform. It is within the SGA guiding principles to hold administration, faculty and ourselves accountable for transparent and collaborative decision-making. As the recipients of the education that is at the core of this university, the student voice should be the most influential. It is the responsibility of student organizations to create a culture where the best interests of all students are the first priority. SGA is here to serve and represent that voice and to passionately defend the ideas of all students. Every week, SGA senate is filled with student leaders waiting to help their fellow students with issues on campus, and working to give student voice to the administration’s plans.

There are many ways for students to voice their opinions and concerns. SGA is a good outlet, as there is a weekly open senate meeting on Tuesdaysfrom 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., where students can express their needs and issuesin the open action section. Administrators are present at these meetings to hear student concerns and most points are resolved very quickly. In addition, there are countless administrative offices open on campus. Go directly to a university administrator, send them an email or set up a meeting. They are here for you. While it may be intimidating for some students to reach out to these upper-level faculty and staff, these members are a part of our community and want to improve it as much as students do. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It is impossible to be a part of every decision made on Rider’s campus, but if there is something you feel passionate about, get involved. It isexponentially more effective to be an active voice throughout decision-makingthan to speak up only when you disagree with a determination that has already been made.

SGA believes that students, at some capacity, should be involved or consulted for every major decision on campus that affects the future of Rider students. Rider has made a commitment to create a community of engaged learning; our engagement is crucial to creating the university that we are all proud to be a part of.

— Student Government Association Executive Board

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