Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

SGSU struggles to find place on campus

    Outside an office on the western end of top floor of the Student Center, there’s a large and very misleading sign. The sign reads “Associated Students of Seattle University”, and it’s misleading because there’s no such thing as the Associated Students of Seattle University. There hasn’t been for almost a year. ASSU ceased to exist at the end of last school year, when the student body (well, some of the student body) voted to change the name to SGSU, or the Student Government of Seattle University.

    The change was a probably a good move. It’s hard to be taken seriously when your organization’s acronym spells ASS.

    SGSU is followed up its long-overdue name change with an aggressive rebranding campaign aimed at making the student body more aware of SGSU and its role on campus. SGSU fulfills a number of roles, from funding clubs to deciding campus wide policy.

    “The biggest initiative we’re involved in is pursuing the possibility of transitioning into a smoke-free or tobacco-free campus,” said Mason Bryan, SGSU vice president of university affairs. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that something concrete is going to happen this year.”

    The process of becoming a smoke-free or tobacco campus is immensely complicated, and it’s unlikely that it will happen any time soon. SGSU and the administration have been looking at the issue for several years, and the issue has been moving a snail’s pace.

    “ The next step would be to put together a task force of people from all over the university to look at . . . the ramifications of transitioning to a smoke-free or tobacco-free campus,” Bryan said. “ We need input from faculty and staff as well as from students.”

    The change, if enacted, would be one of the most significant changes to campus life in years. If nothing else, banning smoking on campus would certainly make students more aware of SGSU. There are hundreds, if not thousands of smokers on campus, all of whom would have to change their daily routines.

    While Bryan and other SGSU members are concerned about public opinion on the issue, it’s hard to gauge how much support the issue actually has.  SGSU has no way of accurately polling the student body. Online polls, like SGSU elections, tend to have low participation.

    Assessing public support is also difficult simply because it’s unclear to what extent students are aware of the proposal.

    This lack of awareness isn’t from a lack of effort on SGSU’s part. At the beginning of the school year, SGSU launched an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at increasing student awareness of SGSU.

    “One of the main focuses this year has been reaching out to our constituents,” said Bryan. “Its important that we have a presence in the community. We need to get our faces out there.”

    According to Bryan, the rebranding is particularly important now, given the recent change in name. Whatever name recognition that had was lost at the end of last year when the organization changed names.

    While it’s hard to judge how effective the campaign has been, there are some signs of success. Dylan Hoffman, SGSU’s vice president of finance, says SGSU has received more requests for funding than ever before. Over the course of the year, SGSU is expected to distribute almost $70,000 to students clubs and organizations, but this sum isn’t nearly enough to cover all the requests SGSU receives.

    “This year we have $68,000 that we will be giving out,” said Hoffman. “That money will be drawn out over 6 appropriations meetings. At this last meeting, we had about $46,000 in requests.”

    These appropriations are a huge part of what SGSU does. According to Hoffman, “ SGSU always allocates 65-70% of [the budget] to appropriations. It’s far and away the area we spend the most money on. That’s what the money is there for, it’s here for the students and the clubs.”

    This sudden jump in funding requests is an indicator of progress, but SGSU’s campaign to raise awareness is still an uphill battle. SGSU elections have historically had abysmally low turnouts- a sign of general student apathy towards student government.  The turnout at the upcoming election should act as a good indicator of whether or not SGSU rebranding campaign has been successful.

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