Know your student leaders: The Big Three from SGA


Symiah Dorsey/The Lion's Roar

The 2020-2021 Student Government Association officers, from left to right: SGA President L’Oreal Williams, SGA Vice President Darnell Butler and SGA Chief Justice Madison Sunde.

Student leaders are learning to adapt as they prepare for a semester that will present a unique array of challenges. The Student Government Association’s “Big Three,” the president, vice president and chief justice, are no exception.

After winning the election in April, the SGA officers spent their summer brainstorming ways to keep the student body informed and involved while also keeping their safety in mind.

L’Oreal Williams, SGA president, explained that part of SGA’s plan for the upcoming semester involves hosting events that ensure students’ safety.

“Being that COVID-19 will have a significant impact on campus life as we know it, we are aiming towards implementing activities that are not only enjoyable but will ensure the safety of our students,” said Williams. “With that being said, we are planning an array of virtual events for this semester.”

Going into the fall semester, Williams shared that she wants to encourage teamwork and effective communication in order to help students ease into the school year.

“My leadership strategy this semester includes promoting teamwork amongst my team, as well as encouraging ideas from my peers to make this semester a smooth transition as we return,” commented Williams. “Being transparent is an especially important quality for me this semester, being that I plan on informing the student body about changes as early as possible.”

Many students are still uncertain about how the rest of 2020 will go. Darnell Butler, SGA vice president, shared how he feels about serving as a student leader during these confusing times.

“It makes me feel like I have to lead by example,” said Butler. “A lot of students don’t want to come back, so it’s figuring out how to make students the most comfortable, what kind of resources can we provide so they’re excelling academically, whether it’s social distancing in class or taking classes online for the majority of the semester. A lot of students and organizations look up to SGA, so it’s important that we’re taking this very seriously and we’re adapting to this new norm. This semester is going to have a lot of new changes, so it’s a lot of figuring out how we can help students adapt to something they’ve never really seen before.”

A new feature coming to campus this year through SGA is Lion Talk Tuesdays. Butler explained how these meetings will contribute to improving campus life.

“It’s kind of like a campus town hall,” mentioned Butler. “Students will be able to come one Tuesday per month and express any concerns or thoughts or ideas that they have. Throughout the semester, we’ll have different topics that we can talk about at each town hall. Throughout each one, we’ll try to include different panelists, which may include any faculty or staff members that students want to hear from.”

A primary concern among students this semester is alternative forms of learning. Madison Sunde, SGA chief justice, shared why hybrid or remote learning is still a good opportunity for students to be involved on campus.

“Don’t make college a nine-to-five job,” advised Sunde. “Especially during this time, you’re forced to think ‘I can only do so much in a day.’ When it comes to getting involved, this is the best time because you want to eliminate as much isolation as possible. We have such a diverse group of positions and ways to get involved that you can literally choose how much you want to commit and what way you want to do it.”

Sunde explained that during the course of the semester, she wants to find a balance between being flexible to unforeseen circumstances and working to achieve her goals.

“For this semester, what I’m anticipating is trying to be adaptable, but also sticking to your core goals and initiatives,” said Sunde. “For me, it’s just being a voice for students and keeping students informed. We all have plans in place so that no matter what phase we’re in, we’re going to get that initiative across.”