SGA adds students to administrative boards, make efforts toward diversity amid pandemic


SGA President Freedom Richardson speaks to students via a virtual speech. Richardson said his administration is working to create a voting seat for students on the board of trustees as well as promote equity and inclusion efforts on campus Photo credit: SGA

Gabriella Killett

The Student Government Association is on its way to fulfilling campaign goals of getting student seats on administrative boards and promoting equity, despite working amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to SGA President Freedom Richardson.

The Maroon reported in March that Richardson and Vice President Zontré City ran on a platform defined by plans to advocate for a voting student member on the board of trustees, to improve student and alumni relationships and to promote equity and justice throughout campus. Now, Richardson said the focus is implementing those changes.

Richardson said SGA is in the process of getting a voting seat for a student on the board of trustees. The board of trustees is the final decision maker on university decisions, such as approving the campus budget and university policy. Having a voting student member as a part of the board would allow students to be an official part of the decision-making process, according to Richardson, which has never happened before.

“I spoke with President Tetlow and, immediately, she had no reservations about the idea,” Richardson said.

At least three of about 30 members of the Board of Trustees are committed to supporting the idea. Richardson said he plans to present the idea in front of the board in October and also meet in December for a formal vote.

Richardson also said that SGA scored a seat on the alumni association board so students can help with networking and advocacy in the community. The board is currently working to program socially distanced events during COVID-19.

Richardson said he is also trying to prioritize student voices and hopes to encourage the board of trustees to look at diversity and inclusion measures such as allowing for more people of color to have tenure at the university and encouraging university management to hire more Black and brown professors.

SGA has also added Cheyenne Williams, criminology junior, to its cabinet as the current administration’s diversity and inclusion officer in order to promote on-campus equality for students of color.

“I find that when you have George Floyd incidents or issues like Sonya Duhé or recurring issues of Walter Block, you have black and brown students that feel like they have to start from scratch,” Richardson said.

Richardson said he’s eager to prioritize policy and more than just campus beautification initiatives, which have long been a priority of SGA executive candidates and elected administrations.

“This isn’t more furniture for the student government office, picnic table out in the res quad,” Richardson said. “This is literally shattering 108 years of students being voiceless at the highest tables of our university, and we’re even looking at a committee at the board of trustee level for equity and inclusion.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated as of 3:11 p.m. Sept. 7. A previous version of this story said a formal vote for a student seat on the board of trustees in October instead of December. The story has been changed to reflect the December timeline.