SGA Pushes New Initiatives on Campus

Katie Reed, Staff Writer

As the half-way point of the Spring 2022 semester grows closer, members of the University’s Student Government Association (SGA) are hard at work advocating for all students on campus and pushing new initiatives to the forefront.

Jose Garcia is a Senator for the Class of 2023 and the Chair of the Student Life Advisory Committee in SGA. 

“I really like being at Villanova and being a part of the community,” Garcia said. “A lot of my role is representing the Class of 2023 and doing anything I can to improve the student experience here, no matter what race, religion or background you come from. That’s what I appreciate about SGA.”

Recently, SGA was able to help raise the minimum wage for student workers to $10 per hour, but Garcia mentioned that the group has no intention of stopping there and hopes to eventually get to $15 per hour. 

Garcia also noted other initiatives on campus being undertaken by his committee. It is trying to improve the fitness centers on campus through extending the hours for the gyms on South and West campus (Stanford and Farley, respectively) and pushing for the Davis Center to be open 24/7. It is planning on doing a walkthrough of the fitness centers to hopefully improve the equipment in these facilities as well.

Additionally, Garcia mentioned that his committee is looking to place more water fountains across the University, and it has been working with Dining Services to reopen Freshens in the Connelly Center, a Villanovan fan-favorite. 

Thomas Dessoye, another member of SGA, is a Senator for the Class of 2024 and the Chair of the Mission and Social Justice Committee.

“To me, being able to have the opportunity to represent the wants, needs and concerns of my class is one of the most meaningful pursuits that I get to be a part of every day,” Dessoye said. “Although there are immense responsibilities that come along with these positions, I am able to say that I try the best of my ability to promote values of justice to those who do not have the chance to have their voices heard, whether it be towards the administration or other members of the Villanova community.”

Like Garcia, Dessoye also mentioned initiatives that he was working on with his committee and other members of SGA. For starters, he is working with the Senators of the Class of 2025, members of PR for SGA and UNIT to increase SGA’s transparency with both the public and the University administration. They are looking to update the Nova Now app to have a section that provides Villanovans with direct access to information and updates from SGA. His committee is also working with the University Administration, the Office of Disability Services, the Department of Public Safety and the Parking Office to increase accessibility on campus for students with disabilities. 

“Even though a resolution was recently passed and signed for this particular issue, we want to be able to guarantee that all students are given an equal opportunity at Villanova,” Dessoye said. 

Another major initiative on the horizon that SGA is advocating for is excused absences for mental health. Guided by the annual University of Michigan Healthy Minds Study, which assesses the climate of mental health and accompanying resources amongst graduate and undergraduate students, SGA is working with the Dean of Students’ Office and the Academic Policy Committee to implement this change for students. 

“Justin Heinze, one of the principal investigators of the report, said that a substantial majority of students indicated that their mental health has negatively affected their academic performance, whereas 83% of respondents reporting at least one day of academic impairment due to mental health in the last four weeks,” Dessoye said. 

The results of the survey clearly demonstrate the pressing need for students to take care of their mental health. Allowing students to have excused absences would allow them to do this, as Dessoye pointed out, whether or not they have an official diagnosis. 

 “Even though most professors are accommodating for mental health issues, we want the school to have a concrete policy that allows students to be able to look after themselves,” Dessoye said. “There are sure to be obstacles along the way with this idea, but I truly believe it would be beneficial.”

Though Garcia does not work directly with the committee tackling this endeavor, he supports it and hopes that students will be able to utilize it appropriately. 

“Sometimes you might need a day off or need to take a break, so as long as you have an excused absence, that would be great,” Garcia said.

Garcia will be running for Student Body President in the upcoming SGA election. In addition to reiterating his passion for working with students on campus and making sure that all voices are being heard, he also stressed the importance of getting involved and trying new things, as that led to his involvement in SGA.

“I never was into government or anything like that, but SGA has given me an avenue to advocate for students and meet with administrators,” Garcia said. “Even if something might not be on your radar or something is uncomfortable, I would say go for it. You never know who you will meet, how you will better yourself, or how much you will learn from others as well.”

Both Garcia and Dessoye emphasized that if students ever have a problem that they need addressed, they should always feel free to approach SGA or either of them, as they are dedicated to their roles in helping the University community.

Be on the lookout for these upcoming changes that SGA is striving to implement, and visit their website for more general or contact information.