Governing with Student Voice
Student Voice, the organization that acts as a liaison between the student body and the administration of Santa Fe University of Art and Design, is in the midst of an overhaul. Over the years, Student Voice has been steadily moving toward a government structure, and the decision to completely convert to a Student Government is finally in motion.
In the past, Student Voice included a president and vice president, but also any student could head a project as long as they were willing to put in the work. Bryan Seigel, president prior to the current Creative Writing senior Nicholas Thomas, oversaw this type of structure before his graduation. Most of the responsibility, pressure and power was on him and then-VP Thomas.
Currently, Thomas works with a handful of officers, spreading out the division of power and accountability. For example, Vice President of Public Relations Garrett Johnston, an animation student, acts not only as a representative for students, but also maintains communication and action for campus events and groups, like the upcoming blood drive. Vice President of Campus Improvement and Safety Marisa Doherty, another Creative Writing senior, helped spearhead the recycling program on campus, a very proud achievement for Student Voice.
Moving forward, Student Government meetings will have freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior class representatives to bring forward concerns from students that can’t attend. There may also be a commuter representative. Other positions up for election include the president and vice president, treasurer and scribe. Thomas expects to hold intensive training later this semester after representatives are chosen. Johnston compares the conversion process to a butterfly’s metamorphosis: “I feel like Student Voice is just moving towards what it needs to be, but I don’t know how long that’ll take. It’s a huge transition, and it’s a lot. It’s kind of like Student Voice’s cocoon phase—we’re not that pretty right now, but we’ll get there eventually.”
Student reception of the forthcoming shift has been mixed, but predominately positive, according to Thomas. Several students have expressed excitement due to their own experiences with Student Government at their high schools or transfer colleges. “There are some people though, and I don’t know this person, but they actually said this to me when I said they should nominate someone or themselves for Student Government: ‘I don’t believe in anything that has the word government in it, fuck you’,” Thomas said.
Doherty, enthused herself, says that Student Voice is sorting through the many nominations now and will hopefully have the poll for students to vote available online soon. “It was so exciting to see other students getting excited about student government. People were really excited, and it was awesome, and people were kind of informally campaigning for positions right there in the moment, realizing they wanted a place in student government. So while I want to emphasize that we do represent the students [already], I think the fact that we are nominating people and choosing officers by popular vote now is hugely important. Having leaders that the students choose is important because it better guarantees that the student population in general get a voice.”
Students can keep up with Student Voice events, meetings, and activities through the Student Life Facebook page as well as school emails. Student Voice also has an office in Mouton Hall.