If you want better toilet paper in the dorms, you can petition for it. Student Government of Seattle University (SGSU) recently started an initiative called “We the Redhawks” to help more student voices be heard throughout campus.
According to SGSU President Eric Chalmers, President Obama had the idea first. In an effort to give people a more streamlined way to petition to the government, the Obama administration created “We the People” as a way for issues to be heard. Seattle University’s student body president, Chalmers, liked the mission so much, he gave campus our own version of Obama’s online petition initiative: “We the Redhawks.”
Chalmers noticed how the national efforts of We the People allowed ordinary citizens to direct the
Enactus is an international non-profit organization that empowers students to make a difference in their communities to become strong business leaders. They gave their presentation and discussion on Tuesday, April 8.
“It got me thinking that SGSU, yeah, we represent students and we work on behalf of students, but obviously there’s only so many of us,” he said. “We can’t address all the student’s concerns. We can’t sometimes take immediate action on things.”
Additionally, Chalmers said, when SGSU takes issues to the administration, there isn’t always a clear idea of how many students are affected—the issue might exist, but to what extent?
“We the Redhawks” is the answer, Chalmers said. With this initiative, students can have their issues heard fast. SGSU emailed students about “We the Redhawks” last week—telling campus that being heard just got easier.
“’We the Redhawks’ is SGSU[’s] way of ensuring that you can take immediate action to make your school a better place,” the email read.
Some students are already trying it out.
Mohammed Alturki has been working on the campaign to change credit graduation requirements for seniors; a topic The Spectator covered earlier this year when the petition was first making the rounds.
Essentially, there were three main points to the proposal. The first asked that students with 18 credits or fewer remaining by the end of spring quarter be allowed to walk with their class. Second, giving exceptions to students with disabilities. And last, giving leeway to students who encounter circumstances beyond their control that limit their course load.
Because of “We the Redhawks”, the first point of his proposal has already been accepted, Alturki said.
“Within the first week we had over 600 signatures,” Alturki said. “Since the issue is very sensitive and it affects a lot of students, within, I believe, the first two or three days we got almost 400 [signatures].” After collecting the signatures, SGSU moved the proposal on to the administration, who agreed to allow students with 18 remaining credits to walk with their class this June and finish courses next year.
Chalmers said this is exactly what he hopes to see students do with “We the Redhawks.” It can be frustrating when we see problems and don’t know how to talk about them, he said. He wants this to be the bridge for those ideas. Before this initiative there was nothing in place for students to be heard.
“I think it will help to show that students really care about a lot of the stuff we’re talking about,” Chalmers said.
Alturki’s petition is one example. To him, “We the Redhawks” allows for important voices heard.
“I think [“We the Redhawks”] was a great idea,” he said. “It shows the administration the number of students who support the petition and it’s not only the students who are impacted by the policy.”
Alturki, for example, was not personally impacted by the credit-cap policy. About 180 students would have been affected. But over 600 students signed in support of a change to the credit requirements—showing a huge backing, even by students unaffected by the policy.
“Having “We the Redhawks”…shows administration how many students support the petition and how students are very involved with these sensitive issues,” Alturki said.
The student government wants to hear your concerns and ideas, Chalmers said. They want people to use this platform. According to the email about the initiative, “SGSU will never turn away a petition unless it is overtly disrespectful or inappropriate according [to] Seattle University’s Code
So if you have an issue, voice it.
“It’s got a lot of potential to do a lot of good here at SU,” Chalmers said. “Not only for the rest of this quarter and year but moving forward.”