At 4 p.m. on April 24, Megha Gupta officially began her 2018-2019 term as SGA President.
Gupta previously served as the 2017-18 Vice President of Finance and Administration under Keyana Miller.
“Last year, we made several changes to the SGA constitution – something that executive teams had been looking to do for a long time,” Gupta said. “We trimmed the constitution from 67 to 14 pages, revising and cutting down on a lot of things that weren’t necessary.”
“We also supported the Open Textbook Initiative, a program advocating for faculty to use cheaper textbooks, extensive PowerPoint presentations, and online resources rather than making students pay for big, costly books.”
Going forward, Gupta said she wishes to focus on goals such as deepening the connection between SGA members and the student body at large, increasing the size of SGA events, and helping accommodate for the various incoming renovations to the D.P. Culp University Center.
“I would like to post members of my cabinet, SGA senators and volunteers at various locations across campus,” said Gupta. ”There, they will offer snacks to students, talk to them, and allow them to make suggestions and offer input on matters regarding the SGA. Additionally, we will be placing pictures of our SGA senators at their respective colleges — an idea that came from the team of my former campaign opponent Jordan Rowe.
“I would also like the SGA to post Facebook live videos and engage in social media interactions in order to increase awareness of what the SGA is and what we do.”
Gupta also hopes to make it easier for students to speak with her personally.
“Because of the Culp renovations, my office is being moved to the CPA,” Gupta said. “I know it’s a struggle for some students to go out of their way to see me at that location. I’ve requested an office in the library in order to help with accessibility. If I can’t get that, I’d still like there to be some space on the first floor of the library where students have the opportunity to come and see me at least weekly.”
In the aftermath of the SGA election, a small controversy emerged in the Judicial Branch. The personal relationship between two of the president’s nominees for SGA Student Court Justices was called into question. Believing the nominees’ relationship posed a conflict of interest, veteran Justice and 2018-19 nominee Corey Phillips brought his peers’ relationship to the attention of both Gupta and the SGA Senate through email.
Gupta acted quickly and revoked the two nominees’ nominations, agreeing their relationship posed a conflict of interest. However, the president also revoked Phillips’ nomination for the 2018-19 term.
“For me, this was a matter of transparency,” Phillips said. “This was a student raising concerns against a conflict of interest in our government. There is nothing in our constitution that states a justice cannot reach out and address a matter with the Senate.”
“Corey did nothing wrong per the SGA constitution or in terms of character-bashing,” Gupta said. “However, I reconsidered his nomination due to concerns with professionalism and separation of power. I just didn’t think it was fair or professional for a member of the Judicial Branch to directly reach out to senators with concerns that may affect their votes.“
“If Corey were a senator, there would have been no problem with him contacting his peers in the Senate regarding his concerns.”
Gupta wishes to increase transparency between SGA staff and the student body. She feels optimistic toward the year ahead. She also hinted that she and her executive team are working on something different and exciting that will be revealed at a later date.