Nearly 1,300 students across both the MCV and Monroe Park campuses voted in favor of unifying the two existing student government bodies into one on Jan. 25.
The unified student government which will now be known as VCU SGA will become active beginning this summer.
The idea of having one SGA across both campuses has been proposed over the past couple of years in meetings held by the Joint Student Government Council, according to Keith Zirkle who serves as chair in the JSGC and former MCV SGA President.
The JSGC serves as the middle ground where representatives including the presidents from both campuses SGAs meet to discuss issues and advancements taking place on either campus.
Zirkle said that the issues expressed at the JSGC meetings were often the same — especially when it came to parking, transportation, tuition and student organizations, which led to idea of potentially unifying the two governments.
“There was a push to say, why don’t we just have one SGA? What is holding us back?” Zirkle said.
The motivation to link the two campuses, which currently sit about a mile apart, is to gain more influence with the university’s administration. Both campuses SGAs also wished to mimic the model of the Faculty and Staff Senate, which merged years ago.
Another perk of bringing the two student governments together, Zirkle said, is funding would increase for student organizations because the cost to maintain two separate SGAs would get cut down.
In contrast, some students speculated the SGA would be able to take a larger cut of the Student Activity Fee if more money was added to their funding and appropriations pool.
Katie Clark, the current president of the Monroe Park SGA, said this isn’t true.
“The amount SGA is getting isn’t going to increase,” Clark said. ”It will decrease because we aren’t spending for two separate entities anymore, which includes marketing material and paying two separate executive boards.”
Clark also said that the SGAs are revisiting the process that student organizations have to go through in order to secure funding — an issue that has received criticism from students across both campuses.
“We’re working on possibly developing a proposal or making some changes because we recognize that the process hasn’t been the easiest for students or that there is a lot of confusion,” Clark said.
Another concern was whether undergraduate and graduate/professional student organizations would now have to compete for the same funding due to the merger.
According to both Clark and Zirkle that will not be the case.
Since graduate/professional students’ activity fee is less than the amount undergraduate students pay, and the number of overall student organizations is smaller, graduate/professional student organizations will be partitioned 30 percent.
Undergraduate student organizations will be able to compete for a larger amount.
“Ultimately we’re making strides to create a more unified and inclusive student body and university that creates opportunities for everyone,” Zirkle said.
Students can expect more details in regards to positions in the coming weeks. Elections will take place in late February or early March, right before Spring break. The newly elected members will begin working together in late April.
Staff Writer: Hiba Ahmad
Hiba is a senior studying broadcast journalism and religious studies. In addition to writing for the CT, she is the campus editor-at-large for the Huffington Post, a blogger for MuslimGirl.net and president of United Muslim Relief at VCU. This summer, Hiba interned with the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. She previously interned with Voice for America and as a web content intern for VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
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