SGO: A Refreshing Perspective

As a person who was never involved in student government in high school, joining the Student Government Organization (SGO) at Swarthmore was something new for me. I knew I wanted to make a difference, particularly in the realm of student life on campus. I heard all the worries about little to no parties and a strong emphasis on studying. At Swarthmore, of course, studying can be expected; let’s be real — we live in a pressure cooker environment. But I wanted to break away from that norm — which I think other students (and even faculty!) want as well — and SGO seemed like the place to do it.

I started as a class senator on the Student Life Committee, excited to do some meaningful work and learn more about what happened behind the scenes. I know what you’re expecting: “It was horrible, I hated it, SGO sucks.” But it wasn’t any of those things. I really loved it. I loved getting to be involved in planning different events, getting to know administrators on campus, and building relationships with people I likely wouldn’t have encountered outside of SGO. Knowing that the hard work I, my fellow senators, and the Executive Chairs at the time were putting in had paid off was incredible. Seeing students love the therapy puppies last spring or come to the bonfires or play poker at Casino Night was awesome. I also got to learn about, and work hard to improve, what wasn’t so great on campus. We were able to make some changes with housing (bringing back blocking), and we have plans to continue working with dining and Public Safety.

But it’s not just the Student Life Committee. Meaningful changes are being made across the board, from a new chartering process for student clubs, to fighting for 0.5 credits for labs, to working with Public Safety and the shuttles, to creating a Moodle page for SGO. I could go on and on about the changes we are working on. However, at this point, I fear you might be overwhelmed with learning about all that SGO has done — a lot of what SGO does is behind the scenes. I strongly believe that SGO should start having monthly plenaries with the entire student body where committees can present the work they’ve done and work that is in progress, ending with a Q&A session/open discussion.

Yes, SGO can be a lot of work. And sometimes it can be really exhausting and draining and frustrating. But most of the time, we are a strongly organized body filled with passionate Swatties who are there to make change and shape Swarthmore College into a community we are proud of and long for after we graduate. I would highly encourage any student reading this to join SGO. We’re all students, just like you. And we want to work with the entire student body to create the changes you want to see. It starts with being kind, open, willing to compromise, and willing to put in the work. I feel that being on SGO, both as a class senator and now as an Executive Chair, has allowed me to create opportunities and events students want to see and work toward a deeper understanding of the needs of our community.

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