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SG Corner: General Assembly becomes more accessible

by Blaise Guerriero

When I ran for Speaker of Assembly last year, I ran on a two-word platform: communication and collaboration.

That was and remains my primary goal for the General Assembly. For the past year, the Student Government General Assembly took place on the fourth Tuesday of the month. The Committee Meetings took place on the first and second Tuesdays and only the Finance Committee would meet on the third Tuesday. If there was a fifth Tuesday, it threw a wrench into our system. The system tried to give representatives a week off, but in the end, it caused mass confusion and frustration everyone, including me.

As the Speaker of Assembly, I was contacted by various representatives who conveyed their feelings of discontent and aggravation due to missed meetings. Each were caused by individuals who understandably messed up the week and therefore had to forego appropriation requests for the semester.

With all of that in mind, I wrote a bill last semester that would implement a change in the meetings permanently. The change was that every Tuesday the General Assembly would meet with every committee. This bill was passed through all of Student Government and went into effect this semester. Once it was passed, the platform on which I ran could be implemented much easier and effectively.

The hope is that this change will increase communication between all organizations that attend General Assembly through the use of an open forum in the beginning of the meetings. Also, that they would be able to ask to do a partnership with other organizations for an event that they are putting on (collaboration).

These two actions are becoming ever more important on a campus that is continuing to grow. With each new group of incoming students, new organizations follow. It is part of the Speaker of Assembly’s job to assist organizations, and right now that means helping to facilitate these open aired conversations in General Assembly so that event quality goes up, event attendance increases and over programming decreases.

Another portion that I wanted to expand upon with General Assembly is the inclusion of more education. Over the past semester and this semester as well, I have brought in various individuals from UT and the Tampa community to educate all of the representatives on topics such as Spartan Ready, Startup Tampa Bay and Information Security. Along with the presentations, there is also a monthly diversity presentation which I facilitate. In the diversity presentations, I go over various organizations around the U.S. and world to show how they are positively impacting the lives of others.

It is extremely important to me that every representative not only knows about what goes on at UT, but to also expand their understanding of diversity. The goal is to help educate each representative, so they bring that knowledge back to their organization to help expand the education process even farther.

In an attempt to make the idea of communication and collaboration more comprehensive, last semester I introduced a bill that would create an Academic Department Committee. This bill passed through all of Student Government in the hopes that General Assembly could act as a bridge between the information silos that exist amongst Academics and Student Affairs. This committee will be implemented in Fall 2019 and will have a student representative from each Academic Department that will be appointed by their Department Chair. The addition of the Academic Department Committee will allow for Student Government and General Assembly to reach all students and not just the students that are involved in an organization.

These collective initiatives are being put into place to ensure that Student Government and the General Assembly will be able to better assist every student and prepare for the increasing number of students each year. While I will not be able to see all of these come to fruition, it is my hope that I will be able to lay down the foundation for the future Speaker of Assembly to continue to grow the impact that the General Assembly has.

Blaise Guerriero can be reached at blaise.guerriero@spartans.ut.edu

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