Why you need to run for SG Representative (or vote for one)

Kevin Roberts, Contributor

Editor’s note: This column was submitted by a member of the UT community. 

The student government assembly serves as the place where students come together in a forum to discuss issues of great importance through legislation. This year, we have covered numerous important topics, ranging from more advocacy pieces like student loan debt and supporting efforts to unionize, to internal changes such as SG Reform.

It’s important that we as an assembly approach every piece of legislation with good intentions and with a dedication to see it implemented, rather than performative pieces just for feel-good messaging. With that, every representative has a part to play when it comes to the legislative process within the Assembly, and we need students who are dedicated and willing to get involved.

As Speaker of the Assembly, I run every meeting and see how they play out. In addition to that, I speak with representatives and help them achieve their goals. As such, I also see those who don’t do anything … or don’t even bother to show up to our meetings.

While SG Assembly meetings are open to the public for students, many do not appear. I understand — who wants to come to a boring Tuesday night meeting when you could be resting, studying or out with friends? Still, many students would be surprised to see what their student representatives are doing. Some representatives seem more interested in “roleplaying” in the bureaucracy that is SG rather than attempting to address or amplify campus issues. Or on different occasions, publically report that they are not actively working on anything which causes a standing ovation within the assembly by some. While other representatives seem more focused on the “accountability” of leadership, they fail to recognize or turn a blind eye to the actions of their colleagues. Honestly, there are those in the assembly who view the extent of their service as putting the role within their resume.

The work we do matters, and what we do carries influence. I have equally seen good representatives work to get polling locations on campus, coordinate with the university on sustainability and bring attention to student issues affecting marginalized communities, to name a few. Without good student representation, none of this may have come to light or been made achievable. Using my role, I have brought in elected officials and prominent campus officials, to which some representatives have genuinely worked to raise the alarm of issues greatly affecting students.

We need students who are willing to put in the work to run. We need students who are here to actually push for change and not simply check off a box on their resume. We need students who are here to put students first, rather than their own self-interest to run. These positions of power are far too important to let those who are not willing to do the work represent us. I encourage you, if you’re dedicated and want to make a difference, to run. If not, or if you don’t have the time, then make your voice heard and vote for candidates who will! Filing for representatives begins Jan. 9 and ends Feb. 6. Be the positive agent of change on this campus, and run! 

Roberts is a government senior from Fort Worth, Texas. He is the speaker of the UT Student Government Assembly.