The 2022-2023 academic year will prove to be transformative for the College in a number of ways, and the leaders elected during this year’s elections will in large part be tasked with managing the student government during this transitional period.
SGA announced a broad restructuring plan on March 10 that will see the current SGA model divide into three distinct branches: a student government association still called SGA, a Programming Board, and a separate Lion’s Pause branch, all with separate leadership and purposes.
With this major restructuring comes new responsibilities for the elected President and Vice President. The elected duo will have a greater duty towards listening to and reflecting student body concerns in the new SGA branch. A main reason for wanting to reduce the number of elected positions in SGA, according to current SGA members at Senate meetings where the restructuring plan was discussed, is to better respond to student concerns and represent the student body as a whole.
Alongside having a greater obligation to hear and respond to student concerns, next year’s SGA administration will further be tasked with leading the student body through what will prove to be a transformational year for the College. The new Ole Avenue Housing Project is set to be completed and to house students for the first time starting in the fall of 2022. The search for a new president will be finalized as current president David Anderson ’74 has his final year leading the St. Olaf administration. And the new restructuring will significantly shift how events are planned and executed across different campus organizations.
The candidate pairs both addressed how they plan to lead the student government through these transitions during their campaigns. Nelson and Ellis emphasized their previous experience in leading different parts of student government in preparing them to handle future changes, and Pham and Thiel extended their campaign promises to emphasize including all students’ voices directly in assessing how the student body is responding to campus shifts. Where Nelson and Ellis highlighted their SGA know-how, Pham and Thiel ensured that BIPOC students across campus would be supported in light of these transformations. Both pairs urged transparency in SGA processes and regular communication with the student body as changes occur.
One area that next year’s administration will have to address is continued student apathy toward their government association, which the restructuring plan was intended to address but is still yet to be determined whether it will have an impact on areas like voter turnout and event attendance.