New Student Government President addresses commencement, transparency and racial issues

Nathan Weaver

Newly elected Student Government Association President Juwan Smith sat down with The George-Anne on April 24 to discuss his plans for addressing some of the major issues students have expressed concerns about this semester.

Smith was officially elected SGA President for the 2019-2020 academic year on April 11 with 41.6 percent of the vote.

Addressing future commencement ceremonies

When asked about his plans for next year regarding commencement, Smith laid out his plan to put together a task force intent on resolving the issue.

“My platform initially is to create a commencement task force,” Smith said. “So I want to get a team of students and senators together to see how this commencement goes and what could be improved, what was good, what was bad, and see what we can present to the president’s cabinet and see what we can do to improve it or change it if possible.”

Transparency in SGA

Next, Smith was asked for his position regarding transparency in SGA, especially in light of the recent controversy concerning SGA members allegedly being told not to inform students about upcoming changes to commencement.

“The job of president is to be the representation for students to upper administration,” Smith said, “so it’s my goal not to hide anything from the students. If the students names are involved they deserve to know. There will be zero anything hidden from them, 100 percent transparency. There is no such thing as secrets. So just to be completely transparent.”

Racial issues on campus

Smith was also asked about his position regarding racial issues on campus, particularly concerning the “triggerish” incident and the recent allegations of using the N-word leveled against multiple Georgia Southern University faculty members.

“To address racial issues is to just completely be on the forefront and to educate people on what it means to be inclusive and have diversity in those areas,” Smith said.

Smith said the first step in addressing racial issues is to launch an initiative of ‘equal equals equity.’

“When people think of equal, they think that if I give you the same things that you can have the same opportunities, but if you give people equity, people are allowed to give people a little bit more because they might be a little further behind or a little bit less if they’re a little bit further ahead,” Smith said. “So to just bring a sense of total inclusion here to the university is what my goal is.”

Presence at Liberty

Smith was also asked whether or not he planned to visit the GS Liberty campus as SGA President, a topic which gained some attention during the campaign.

“It’s a simple yes answer,” Smith said. “It just ties back into my platform that ‘family matters,’ and that regardless of if you’re a student on the Hinesville campus or Liberty campus, or a student at the Statesboro campus, you’re just a student here. So just that every student matters.”

Finally, Smith gave his thoughts on whether or not his two opponents in the race for the SGA presidency, Keyshawn Housey and Zean Lopez, would remain a part of SGA next year or any future SGA projects.

“I talked to them and I kind of want to get them included into some part of SGA and get them included because they have great platforms,” Smith said, “I feel like I would like to include them in some aspect. They have great ideas, great visions. Just to include them at some part of SGA. So we’ve been in constant communication just trying to see what we can do to bring them back. They’re a great component of SGA already.”

Nathan Weaver, The George-Anne News Reporter, [email protected]