What is SRSGA and how does it benefit SRU students?
Services that benefit Slippery Rock University students such as the Happy Bus are funded by the Slippery Rock Student Government Association Inc.
Nov. 18, 2021
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Many people are at least familiar with the concept of student government: students elect peers to officer positions of an organization at their school to represent their interests. This is a big deal in higher education where these student-led organizations oversee million-dollar budgets. But what exactly does the student government at Slippery Rock University do, and how does it benefit SRU students?
At SRU, there is the Slippery Rock Student Government Association Inc., which operates as an independent corporation that advocates for students, provides services and governs more than 150 student clubs and organizations. SRSGA oversees a budget of approximately $2.5 million that is funded by a student activity fee.
"A lot of students see us as a piggy bank, where once a year they come to us to get money for their club or organization, but we are much more than that -- we're here so that students' voices are heard," said Mia Graziani, a senior health care administration and management major from Canonsburg, who is the SRSGA president. "And if there are issues that come up, we're able to put funding toward it or address it with University administrators. Students can come to us and show their support for their ideas and passions, and we're able to show (SRU leaders) that this is what your students care about."
Issues that SRSGA has acted upon include everything from providing an on-campus food pantry and free menstrual products, to voicing students' concerns about available parking on campus. These interests represent the diverse constituencies of SRSGA, as senators within the governing body fill seats on behalf of commuters, residents, graduate students, the four colleges on campus, military veterans, international students, first-year students and transfer students.
In fall 2020, SRSGA restructured to add more senators, as there are now 43 delegate seats available. The executive board includes six members, consisting of the president and five vice presidents: one each for the areas of finance; internal affairs; campus outreach; student and academic affairs; and diversity and inclusion. There is also a parliamentarian, appointed by the president, and a speaker of the senate, who is chosen from among the 43 elected senators.
These individuals are elected in a campuswide election during the spring semester each year. Formal SRSGA meetings are conducted biweekly during the academic year, and are open to the public and regularly attended by the executive board, SRSGA delegates and invited guests of the SRSGA president. While the University president occasionally attends the formal meeting when matters need addressed, the SRSGA executive board members conduct separate monthly meetings with corresponding members of the president's cabinet to discuss issues.
While having a group that lobbies on behalf of students to improve their experience at SRU is a worthwhile benefit, there is a financial benefit and a return on the student activity fee that each student pays, which is currently 5.25% of tuition, or $202.55 per semester for a full-time, in-state student.
The money is allocated to student organizations and clubs, and the amounts vary based on factors such as the number of events, travel expenses, membership and other needs of each organization, and their budgets are evaluated and approved by the SRSGA's Finance Committee.
Students who do not choose to be part of a campus organization also benefit from services that are fully or partially supported by the SRSGA, such as the Happy Bus, SGA Bookstore, SRU/SGA Preschool and Child Care Center, Aebersold Student Recreation Center, and varsity and intramural sports teams.
Students also benefit from free or reduced prices for events and activities hosted by campus organizations that are open to all students, such as concerts from the University Program Board. One example is a recent trip to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh for Phantom Fright Nights that cost students only $7, instead of $35 for the general public.
"If students say, 'Oh, my gosh, this is just another fee,' my answer to that is if you're involved on campus, you're going to get so much of that money back," Graziani said. "Using the Happy Bus to get around campus or town, or going to a conference (with your organization), that all adds up, and this all goes toward improving the experiences and the lives of our students."
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