Newly elected SGA executive board looks to engage the student body

Tandra Smith and Erin McGuinness

Dylan John and Valencia Warren were elected President and Executive Vice-President of the Student Government Association (SGA), after receiving 957 votes. Both John and Warren are excited about winning the election.

“Winning the election feels amazing. We had some students that came up to us that were very vocal about how they felt about our campaign and how they felt about how we were handling things and it was great,” Warren said.

Warren is a senior logistics major that will be returning for graduate school in the fall for her masters in business administrations with a focus in logistics.

“The entire experience even with our opposition, has brought great friendships and valuable connections. The students are excited with us and we are excited with them and it’s just an amazing feeling knowing we are getting ready to impact the students in a way that they have never been reached before,” Warren said.

Almost 75 percent of the John-Warren ticket was elected by the student body to represent SGA. Included on the ticket were students from the Greek community, the Multicultural Student Center, international students and more.

“We made sure our ticket was very well positioned,” John said.

John, who was born in Sri Lanka, is a senior construction management major that will also be returning to GS next fall for graduate school. John will be studying applied engineering with a focus in construction management.

Previous experience

John actually failed out of high school and said that college was not in the books for him. After coming to college, he wanted to change who he was and aspired to become active in his academics and student organizations.

John has been involved with 16 organizations, a few that he started himself at GS such as the Mock Mediation club and the Construction Management Association of America and has held 12 officer positions in his time at Georgia Southern.

“It’s about dynamic thought and how you engage and how you strategize and i’ve learned that experience through mock mediation,” John said. “I have six foundation words for my life: construction, business, mediation, training, diplomacy and international relations. If you look at my list of organizations they all relate to those six.”

Both John and Warren started their college careers at different institutions, Warren at Valdosta State University and John at Middle Georgia State College. The newly elected SGA executives believe that their experience at differently colleges has given them an insight to the way other institutions run and allowed them to bring new ideas and perspectives on how to run a successful student organization.

During their campaign, the John and Warren ticket started a program called “Empower the Eagles” where they handed out two poker chips to a student, one to say that they invest in the student and think they are special at GS and another to pass along to someone else that the students wishes to invest in.

“[The poker chips] kind of captures what we want to do by reaching out individually to people and it was not something we advertised during the campaign because we wanted to connect with them on a personal level as well as unite GS,” Warren said.

Campus Carry bill

Currently, some students, faculty and staff are concern about the possible implementation of the campus carry bill in Georgia. However, John is against this bill.

“I am personally against it, as is our university administration. The most beautiful response [regarding campus carry] that I’ve heard was from our incoming president, Jaimie Herbert. He said statistics that may indicate that it’s not going to be a campus safety problem,” John said. “Regardless of the statistics, if one student is uncomfortable that is a problem.”

Goals for upcoming year

As for next year, one of the things John wants to accomplish is being visible and transparent to the student body.

“It’s about joining governments and I don’t think we effectively do the trick down and we have to lead from the front and not sit back and expect engagement because that doesn’t happen,” John said.

Warren states that one of the issues that GS currently faces is the disconnect from the student organizations and SGA.

Warren hopes to build a strong relationship with the Office of Student Activities (OSA) to increase the connection between the student body.

John doesn’t want to change student government but rather transform the way it runs by engaging students.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, we are trying to make it spin better,” John said. “From our survey, we saw that almost 80 percent of the students felt like they don’t know who their representative are. We want to make a tangible effort to have student knowing and identifying who is representing them.”

Photo courtesy of John-Warren Ticket