By Dylan Warren, Staff Reporter
Civic engagement is a cornerstone of Roosevelt University’s institutional values. Student Government Association President Alondra Ibarra said she is prepared to realize that value for Lakers of all walks of life.
Ibarra’s duties involve monthly meetings with President Ali Malekzadeh, meetings with the faculty senate, as well as playing a key role as president of the SGA, where she plans to make worthwhile changes. Ibarra recently laid out her vision of shared governance at Roosevelt University.
The clear intent of Ibarra’s administration comes back to one word: involvement.
Roosevelt, of course, has no shortage of student associations. Ibarra pointed out there are new student groups on campus, such as the advertising club. Although the SGA itself does not fit Roosevelt’s definition of a student group, it is, as Ibarra puts it, an “emerging” organization that is “up and coming as well.”
To explain this, Ibarra talked about her plan for increasing student participation with the SGA.
For Ibarra’s administration, student participation will be defined in large part by a strong focus on attending SGA meetings. Ibarra described the meetings as being the primary event for the year. Student organizations would be asked to send a representative to the meetings.
Even with those students in attendance, Ibarra wants to engage with students who don’t currently belong to a group, and encourages them to come on their own behalf. This, Ibarra said, is a key to success for the SGA as robust student input is important to promoting student’s interests.
“Everything we are doing this year is in the best interest of all our students,” Ibarra said.
One of the first steps of building a participatory democracy on campus involves getting all students to engage in discussion at SGA meetings.
To help facilitate this, Ibarra discussed an outreach effort this year that will include increased commuter student involvement.
One way to accomplish this has been Skype, where the SGA has imagined commuter students being able to attend the meetings despite often unfavorable commute times.
According to Roosevelt University’s fall 2016 enrollment and graduation statistics, there are nearly 800 students attending the Schaumburg campus — all of which could benefit from apps like Skype to attend meetings.
Ibarra said she also plans to send informational emails directly from the SGA to students — as opposed to the university announcements sent by student services. Using technology in new and interesting ways will be part of the SGA’s year ahead, according to Ibarra.
Although SGA plans to use technology to improve student participation with the SGA, Ibarra said she also recognizes the power of grassroots organizing.
She explained that approaching students and talking to them has always been an effective way to spread the word and get people involved. More so than “with surveys, with getting people to come to [their] tables,” Ibarra said
Although marketing plans and events can certainly help, to Ibarra, there is nothing better than going to a classroom and starting a discussion.
SGA seeks to have a “very communicative bond with the student body,” Ibarra said.
One of the resources Ibarra plans to utilize for this dialogue is a diverse executive board, consisting of that also come from a wide background of majors.
Ibarra said she believes that this makes SGA more approachable, and allows the executive board members to encourage students in their respective disciplines to get involved.
Ibarra plans to further Roosevelt’s social justice mission during her time as president as well. To do this, she hopes to build upon the increased student involvement within the SGA to encourage students to realize broader opportunities for civic engagement outside of Roosevelt University.
“These issues that we see on the news are right outside our door,” Ibarra said.