SGA Semester Recap

Looking back at SGA’s semester and looking forward to next semester

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It should be noted that the author of this piece, Matthew Klinger ‘24, is a representative for the Student Government Association.

After a busy semester, Muhlenberg’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its last meeting yesterday. Despite there being controversy during the semester, SGA continued their work and planned for the future. The fall semester saw 12 new clubs approved, ranging from fandom clubs, to affinity groups, to art clubs. SGA also held a number of different events. At the beginning of the year, SGA held the first ever Muhlenbonfire. It also held the Udder Bar Challenge, where a new record time of just over five minutes was set. Towards the end of the semester, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B) committee held its annual “Tens Across The Board” event with an added fashion show before the event that celebrated the work of Black fashion designers from New York City. The DEI&B committee also held a diversity dinner at the end of the semester to support students on campus. Unlike past years where only students were invited, faculty and staff were also invited to help connect students with a greater support network. 

In addition to engaging with the student body, SGA also created and passed a number of bylaws in an effort to improve how SGA is run. One of the most significant ones came in the wake of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The original statement put out by SGA addressing the conflict made many students feel excluded and hurt. A new bylaw was created to prevent that from happening in the future. Going forward, statements responding to a crisis will strictly be statements of support, with the goal of informing students of the different resources available to them on campus. Those resources include students attending SGA General Assembly meetings to speak as constituents. In addition to being statements of support, crisis-response statements are meant to remain neutral whenever possible to ensure that SGA is supporting students rather than dividing or excluding them. 

Members of the student body were also given a greater voice through an Ad-Hoc bylaw. Before the new bylaw, there could not be co-chairs on Ad-Hoc committees, and the chairs had to be members of SGA. The new bylaw changes this as Ad-Hoc committees are now allowed to have co-chairs, and one of those co-chairs does not have to be a member of SGA. The hope is that this new bylaw will give students the opportunity and resources to work for positive change on campus. For example, one of the existing Ad-Hoc committees aimed at supporting commuter students opened a commuter lounge in the basement of Taylor Hall to better serve commuting students on campus. The new bylaw will allow students to implement such changes even if they are not serving on SGA. 

SGA also used its funds to financially support a number of clubs on campus. One of the highlights of the semester was approving funding for Muhlapalooza, which is an all-day music festival happening on campus in April. It will showcase student artists, as well as several other up-and-coming bands. In addition to Muhlapalooza, SGA also provided The Perkulators, ‘Berg’s jazz dance team with new uniforms that will help foster an inclusive and body-positive environment for the club and campus as a whole.  

 SGA hopes to continue the progress they made this semester during the spring semester. They have a number of plans, ranging from new bylaws to events on campus to increased support for all students. One of the first things SGA will do next semester is elect additional representatives. While Josephine Glass ‘27, Shajnin Howlader ‘27 and Ben Allen ‘25 were elected during the fall special election in late November, another special election will be held at the beginning of next semester to fill the additional remaining vacancies. 

SGA is also hoping to create a new bylaw that will increase first-year representation. During the fall semester, there were no first-years serving on SGA, and SGA wants to change that. The proposed bylaw change would reserve two seats for first-years either at the beginning of the fall or spring semester. Those seats would then be filled by a special election. The hope is that doing so will allow all students on campus to have representation in SGA. 

Another proposed change will reduce student learning barriers by making textbooks more accessible. Student Body President Jake Forstein ‘24 and Howlader have proposed a textbook exchange program, which would allow students to exchange textbooks for classes rather than having to buy new ones every semester. This program would allow students to focus on getting all the materials they need to learn, rather than being preoccupied with the cost of getting those materials. 

Shobha Pai ‘24 likes the idea of a textbook exchange program, stating that “As I have progressed through my time at Muhlenberg, my textbooks have been getting expensive, especially with Spanish classes where you have to get a link too. So, I really like that SGA is trying to do this, and I think that it is going to help a lot of students who cannot afford them and need to apply for loans. My only concern is about the codes in textbooks that some professors need for quizzes. As an LA, I go through this since a lot of my intro Psychology classes needed a code, so how that would work with a textbook exchange program is my only concern.” 

Students who want to have their voices heard by SGA are encouraged to come to SGA General Assembly meetings held on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

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Matthew '24 is a philosophy and political thought major on the pre-law track.

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