October 24, 2014

SGA focuses on grad students with “What’s Yo Problem”

Student Government Association (SGA) reached out to non-traditional and graduate students this week as they geared up for their fall Delegate’s Agenda with four evenings of “What’s Yo Problem?” a forum-style program offering cookies and coffee to students in night class in exchange for their complaints or suggestions on how to improve Webster University.

“We’re trying to get more student’s input,” said Wes Matthews, director of information technology for SGA.

Traditionally SGA prepares for the Delegate’s Agenda every semester by hosting an Officer’s Summit. Sergeant-at-Arms for SGA Dexter Earney noticed that a particular fraction of the student population seemed to be underrepresented at the summit.

“Most officers are undergraduate student leaders,” Earney said. “It’s not a broad audience.”

Earney said he and other SGA members made it their special cause to reach out to students who may not be as involved on campus as undergraduate students. Nontraditional, commuter and graduate students have opinions that needed to be heard, Earney said.

“We realize grad students aren’t as involved,” Earney said. “They have jobs and families to get back to. They don’t go to campus events or get free food. We wanted to give them a perk.”

“What’s Yo Problem?” took place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday night in Webster Hall and in Sverdrup. SGA chose to hold the events at this time in hopes to attract students during the break in their night classes.

Earney was stationed in Webster Hall Monday night, listening to problems and suggestions students were willing to share. Students wrote down about 80 problems. One issue was repeated so often Earney said he wouldn’t accept it anymore. “We know parking is the number one issue at Webster,” Earney said. “It’s an issue at any university.”

Students gave many suggestions for improvements at Webster, such as keeping Kaldi’s open later in the evening and expanding the athletics facilities. Some students brought problems with certain classrooms and the professor evaluation process to light. Bridgett Biggs, a mathematics graduate student, said she appreciates SGA focusing on non-traditional students. She said Webster has always been accommodating and helpful in her pursuit of her master’s degree.

“I haven’t had any issues where I’ve needed to be heard,” Biggs said.

Grad student Andy Waldron agreed. He said Webster seems to be “student-friendly,” particularly to those seeking a graduate-level education. But he also said that SGA might not need to be as concerned about his needs as a non-traditional student.

“I think undergraduate students should take precedence,” Waldron said. “As a grad student, I should be more adept to take care of my own business.”

The problems that SGA collects from “What’s Yo Problem?” will be compiled and used to help decide what issues students will be presented to President Stroble and other administrators at the Delegate’s Agenda. Earney said the suggestions might be handed to the administration as well, so they can decide how to address these complaints.

“Maybe their issues will finally be heard and be fixed,” Earney said.

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