SGSU Reorganizes, Emphasizes Student Experience

The Student Government of Seattle University (SGSU) has set their sights on new projects this year, including the introduction of new senator positions. Verbiage concerning position titles was the primary change, providing uniformity with other student governments across the country where representatives are referred to as senators. 

Rather than having class representatives, the senators serve each college within Seattle U. The Executive Board also expanded, adding a Vice President of Communications and Vice President of Academic Affairs. 

Braelyn Scheer, a third-year political science major and president of SGSU, explained that throughout the changes there are still senator positions for graduate and first-year students. 

“For the in-between classes, we felt like people identified more with their college than the year that they’re in,” Scheer said.

SGSU has also worked on increasing mental health resources and advocacy throughout campus. This includes the addition of health and wellness senator, Sophia Cofinas, a second-year public affairs and international studies double major.

“Adding positions like health and wellness [allows people] to have specific outlets for issues that they are having,” Cofinas said. “Everybody will have at least one senator that they can go to for any specific need.”

Cofinas plans events surrounding mental health. Mental Health Awareness Week, which happened in May of last year, will be happening again this year in a similar form. Last year’s event included a talk from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a collaboration with the Seattle U Recreation, and other activities focusing on mental health improvement.

As the health and wellness senator, Cofinas confers with administration frequently and meets with affiliated offices. She currently has standing meetings with the Wellness and Health Promotion office to voice constituent concerns. 

Another project was advocating for changes within Redhawk Dining and Chartwells, Seattle U’s food and catering company. This includes lowering prices, ensuring that there are more breakfast options, adding a brunch option on weekends and expanding dining hall hours until 10 p.m..

In addition to internal changes, SGSU has worked on improving marketing and advertising events to students. Vice President of Communications Isabelle Alamilla, a second-year business management major, believes that this is one of the main challenges SGSU faces. 

“The senators, the executive team and the staff members all do a lot of work to help Seattle U, but there’s no effective way for the student body to know what is going on,” Alamilla said.

While both Scheer and Alamilla believe that student body engagement with SGSU has risen since last year, they also believe there is more work to do. 

“I think there’s room for improvement no matter what you do,” Alamilla said. “Just because it’s not broken doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” 

Alamilla believes that restructuring positions has allowed SGSU to reach out to more people than before. Still, she hopes that their marketing strategies will continue to improve. 

Currently, their primary way of communicating with students is through Instagram. They also utilize ConnectSU and their website but are currently working toward the addition of TikTok and in-person marketing. 

Alamilla is aiming for the addition of in-person events, since doing so would give students the opportunity to meet the people that are advocating for them. 

In order to be better advocates, SGSU highly encourages all students to take the State of the Undergraduate Student Survey (SUSS) that will be sent out within the next two months. In collaboration with the administration, student partners and organizations, the survey is a way for students to communicate their opinions and concerns. 

“I hear [the administration, board of regents and board of trustees] say that they’re concerned about the student perspective. What do students want? How do they feel?” Scheer said. “So the SUSS is how SGSU communicates that to administration and upper trustees.”

As president this year, Scheer hopes to see better interaction with the student body and a more robust student government that makes students feel like they have a seat at the table. She would like people to engage with SGSU, whether it is by attending their weekly assembly meetings and making a public comment, or dropping into their office hours, which can be found on their website

“Engage with us, we want to listen,” Scheer said.