SGA goes virtual

Members of the Student Government Association for the 2019-20 academic year pose for a photo in August 2019.

Student leaders engage, guide using varied approaches amid COVID-19 crisis

The majority of Wheaton College students are no longer on campus, but the Student Government Association (SGA) continues to lead.

In the weeks since the college pivoted to online learning, the SGA is actively engaging students, providing platforms for them to voice their ideas and establishing a process for an online election to determine who will take the helm of the association next year.

“We are still continuing to advocate on behalf of the student body,” said SGA President Sophia Hatzikos ’20. “Now more than ever is an important time to advocate for what the students and the campus community need to make this as smooth as a transition as possible.”

The SGA is continuing to hold all of its regular meetings—albeit virtually.

The SGA Senate hosts weekly meetings, which had been previously live-streamed on Facebook as part of its bylaws. To allow more students to participate, these meetings now are taking place on the Google Meet platform. Also, the finance committee is hard at work developing the budget for the next academic year.

The Accessibility Board meets online on Mondays. The board recently hosted an event, “Surviving the Coronapocalyspe: Finding Mental Health Care,” to help students navigate the process of obtaining therapeutic services. The board also created a self-care activity book for students.

The Programming Activities Council (PAC), also part of the SGA, is hosting virtual events on Thursday. On April 9, the PAC organized a spoken word event with artist Kyla Jenee Lacey and later this month, on April 23, will present Virtual Drag Queen Bingo with Monique Heart in partnership with Alliance.

Class council members also are busy, particularly the senior class council, according to Hatzikos. “I admire their flexibility and adaptability. They are still planning to make up events to take place when the senior class can reunite.”

In the meantime, the SGA’s outreach committee is encouraging students to take online surveys, posted in the bio of its Instagram account (@sgawheaton) at noon on Fridays, which the association calls “Feedback Fridays.” Students who participate earn a chance to win an SGA-themed T-shirt.

“Wheaton has already been doing a great job, but it will be vital to the student experience to receive feedback,” Hatzikos said.

To ensure a smooth transition of officers into the 2020­–21 academic year, the SGA postponed the electoral process originally scheduled to begin in March for mid-April. Students had until April 15 to declare their candidacy through the engage@wheaton platform.

Students wishing to serve on the SGA can campaign online through social media from April 20 to 21, with an optional opportunity to submit a video to share their platform. The student body then will vote on next year’s slate of officers (through an emailed ballot link that will connect to engage@wheaton) on April 22 and 23.

“Elections will be different this year due to the inability to have face-to-face contact but I know those who are running are eager and excited to have their platform out there virtually,” Hatzikos said.

The SGA will announce the winners via email and engage@wheaton on April 24 at 5 p.m.

“There will be hiccups and big challenges as we lean on remote learning to keep everyone safe,” Hatzikos said. “Recognizing that we are a part of a community during these challenging times is key. We are not in this alone and everyone is here to support one another.”