During the SGA senate meeting on Jan. 20, the senate elected Aidan Clark as the new speaker of the senate and AJ Bailey as the speaker pro tempore.
Clark is a junior political science major whose secondary position on the senate is the senator of letters, arts and sciences. Bailey is a senior also majoring in political science. He joined SGA as a senator at large.
This week, they sat down to discuss how their previous experience in SGA will impact their goals to support students moving forward.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How long have you been a part of SGA, and what have you learned from it so far?
Clark: I’ve been on SGA for two years. What I’ve really learned from being on SGA is how to work well in a team, and how to form relationships and work constructively with people who you may not agree with, or who may have different goals in mind and how to collaborate with them. So, I think that’s really the most important thing I’ve learned from being a member of student government.
Bailey: So, I’ve been a senator at large just recently this semester. One thing that I’ve recently learned is definitely teamwork, but also it is not easy to make events. It requires planning, structure and things like that.
What made you want to be a part of SGA?
Clark: As a freshman, I actually was co-president of a club with Nicholas St. John, who’s the former speaker, and after that club ended, we both wanted to do something to stay involved with the student community, and we heard about elections through one of our friends who was on student government, and we decided, “Why not, this will be a fun opportunity to stay involved, meet new people.” And so, I did it, not really knowing what it entailed, and then once I got in, I was hooked, and I’ve wanted to be a part of it ever since.
Bailey: I would say the reason that I got into SGA because I felt like I wanted to be more of a voice to other students that didn’t feel like they wanted to be heard, so I just ran for office specifically for that. Also, I was also encouraged by former speaker Nicholas St. John, how well he was doing as a senator, and he helped encourage me. He was like, “Hey, man, you should run,” and so I did that.
What does your position on SGA entail?
Clark: As speaker, my main position is just scheduling weekly meetings, making sure that the agendas are written ahead of time so they can be published for students to view. I then run the meetings, and I also coordinate with guests and administration on if we have them come speak at meetings, or if they need something brought forward to senate, I’m kind of the contact point for that, so I have a lot of meetings with administrators and different faculty and staff.
Bailey: As speaker pro tempore, I basically help the speaker when needed, and if he is absent, I basically help take over as speaker, and that’s pretty much it.
What are some of your biggest goals moving forward?
Clark: I think one of my biggest goals is just creating a new environment for senate. There were some tensions between a couple members at the beginning of the year, and I just kind of want to usher in a new era and make everybody friends again, help everybody work together, and work collaboratively like I mentioned earlier. I really want to find other ways to create events that could connect with students and get students involved with student government because I think our biggest issue is that a lot of students on campus don’t know that we exist, or don’t know the capacity to which we exist, and so I want to get as many students involved as possible and show them that they have a place on student government if they want to be there, or we’re here if they need to talk. We really just want to try to support the students as much as possible.
Bailey: My goals are pretty similar to Aidan’s. As for events, I’m trying to create a “Stop Racism” event, which is an event that is for students of color and non-color to come together and talk about experiences of racism on campus, and how we can even stop potential harmful experiences from happening.
What would you like students to know about SGA?
Clark: I would like students to know we are always there. Our office is always open. With COVID-19, it’s a little different right now, but usually there’s always somebody in there, so if you ever have any concerns, feel free to come to any senator, any justice, anybody who’s involved, and bring them forward. You’re also welcome to attend any of our meetings. We have them virtually right now, but when we’re back in person, students are always welcome to come and address their concerns if they don’t want to speak to a member, or just talk about things they’d like to see. I’d especially love to collaborate with any students, anyone that needs anything or wants to just air some grievances. We’re also here for the good things too, so get involved.
Bailey: I would say the exact same thing. We’re here. If you need someone to contact, you can contact me as well.