Using past executive teams’ progress as momentum, the recently inaugurated Associated Student Government executives are working to increase collaboration and inclusivity within the organization through campus-wide outreach.
ASG President Jared Pinkerton hopes to see a change in the interactions within and between branches, he said. He wants cabinet members to collaborate on projects rather than focusing solely on their individual agendas.
“Hopefully, we bring that attitude to the rest of ASG as well and we see cabinet members partnering with senate members, and vice versa, on their projects,” Pinkerton said.
ASG consists of six components: the executive branch, the senate, the judicial branch, the cabinet, the Office of Financial Affairs, the Freshman Leadership Forum and the Associate Member program.
To increase student involvement and expand membership, Pinkerton and his team created a video, which all incoming freshman at New Student Orientation will watch, that details the role of ASG and the opportunities that are available to freshman, such as Freshman Leadership Forum, the Associate Member Program and the senate vacancy election, he said. These serve as not only building blocks to ASG leadership, but leadership development across campus.
The most common complaint Pinkerton hears from students is that they are unaware of the opportunities that exist for them to get involved, he said.
“I’ve been rather critical of the organization over the past few years, but I will say, I think we made a step in the right direction,” Pinkerton said.
With a vision of increasing college affordability, student engagement and mental health programming on campus, Pinkerton has implemented new cabinet positions in an effort to accommodate the needs of more students.
Pinkerton split the director of student health position, which only one cabinet member filled previously, into two positions: director of student physical health and director of student mental health.
Sophomore Saylor Sisemore will serve as the director of student physical health while sophomore Michael Fuhrman will serve as the director of student mental health.
Pinkerton thinks that implementing a new position focused specifically on the development and promotion of mental health will help Counseling and Psychological Services and other campus programs be more successful, he said.
“I really want to see some more student engagement in programs like CAPS (and) see more students know the opportunities that are available to them, so they can start to use those programs,” Pinkerton said. “Hopefully, we see those programs grow, and we can start offering even more resources to students.”
The director of student physical health will fulfill the traditional role of the position, collaborating with the UA Pat Walker Health Center to increase student health through outreach initiatives. The director of student mental health will work to assist programs like CAPS in mental health advocacy and resourcing, Pinkerton said.
Pinkerton has also restructured the director of academic affairs position. Previously, the two co-directors shared similar responsibilities, which they divided among themselves. Next year, one co-director will work with administrators on academic policy reform, while the other co-director will focus solely on the development of Open Educational Resources, Pinkerton said.
OER are textbooks and other course materials that students can access for free or at minimal cost, according to the UA Libraries website.
Although 2020 is an off-year for the Arkansas legislature, Pinkerton will work toward his goal of tax-free textbooks statewide by collaborating with other student governments in Arkansas, he said. He plans form a large lobbying group in an effort to put pressure on legislators.
The executives will attend the Southeastern Conference Exchange in July, where they will meet with student government representatives from other SEC schools.
Vice President-elect Sadie Bryant is looking forward to incorporating more voices into ASG and increasing student involvement in campus-wide events, she said.
Bryant wants to encourage more Registered Student Organizations and individual students to take part in homecoming activities, including the homecoming parade, homecoming court and the Chancellor’s Ball.
“I’m really looking forward to the Chancellor’s Ball — it’s an amazing opportunity for every single student to be involved in a campus-wide function,” Bryant said. “I’ve definitely been thinking of some new ideas for that, so stay tuned.”
The ball, a formal event free to all students, consists of music, dancing and homecoming court announcements, according to the Office of Student Activities.
Bryant is also looking forward to collaborating with the Student Alumni Association and Student Alumni Board to create a student-alumni mentorship network, which will serve as a useful resource for everyone on campus, she said.
For information on what the ASG branches are working on and how to get involved, students can visit the ASG website.