By Zachary Gerkin, Correspondent
Image Credit: Jason Marsan for Horizons
On Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott’s Student Government Association hosted its annual Fall Address in the Lower Hanger. The event was attended by approximately 90 guests. Representatives from campus administration and many major student organizations, including the Student Government Association (SGA), the Board of Campus Activities (BCA), Greek Life, AFROTC and Horizons Newspaper were in attendance.
The event opened with a standing social segment that allowed attendees to engage and converse with each other.
“Usually when I go to SGA events, I learn a lot more than I thought I would. It’s never a waste of time,” said attendee Tesla Alford.
Following the standing social, attendees were invited to partake in a meal catered by ERAU Dining Services. As dinner concluded, speakers took to the podium to share their Fall semester updates.
SGA President Prince Gersom Anselmo was the first to speak. Anselmo relayed the achievements of his council this semester and touched on his goals for the next. Anselmo discussed how in years past the SGA has had extremely high turnover, evidenced by this semester being Anselmo’s first serving in any capacity on SGA.
Anselmo stated that this high turnover often left each Executive Council picking-up after the last and pushing their own independent endeavors, with no cohesive year-after-year direction or goals for SGA as a whole. He combatted this by working with administration to bring on a consultant to assist in helping SGA develop a more concrete sense of direction.
Ultimately, this semester Anselmo’s council developed a mission statement and refined logo for our Student Government Association. The new mission statement SGA adopted is as follows: “ SGA serves to strengthen the partnership between students, faculty, staff, and administrators while fostering a culture of excellence and pride for the lasting success of Embry-Riddle and its students.”
Following Anselmo, Dean of Students Dr. Rhondie Voorhees and Chancellor Dr. Anette Karlsson spoke, providing updates regarding campus leadership’s improvement efforts. Karlsson indicated that the new mission statement should be something SGA consistently reminds themselves of. Dr. Karlsson hopes the mission statement will help provide a general sense of direction for SGA and provide better continuity between executive councils.
Dr. Karlsson also commented on the Prescott Campus’s upcoming capital improvement plans. Dr. Karlsson stated that a new student union building is in the planning phase and when constructed will likely displace many labs and educational facilities. She attempted to make clear that every lab or space displaced will be replaced.
Dr. Karlsson also mentioned that housing complex T3 is being planned and will be constructed in between current T1 and T2. The new residence hall will expand housing capacity by approximately 300 beds. Dr. Karlsson stated that a Campus Master Plan is being developed and will eventually result in the maze buildings being demolished and replaced, commenting that they “are no longer useful to us.”
All construction plans are subject to approval from the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees, but they are expected to pass without issue. Dr. Karlsson added that updates are a slow process, but “when you come back in five to ten years after you graduate, campus may look very different.”
Following Prescott Campus administration, Embry-Riddle President Dr. P. Barry Butler was brought in to speak via Zoom. Dr. Butler applauded the SGA for their new mission statement, commenting that it will lead to a “legacy of continued success.”
Dr. Butler went on to state that the university is in “good shape” and that significant funding is coming into the Prescott campus in the form of capital improvement and scholarships. Dr. Butler thanked donors to the university, and stated that just recently, Embry-Riddle received its largest ever single gift. He continued to note that these generous gifts allow Embry-Riddle to do more.
Dr. Butler took a moment to commemorate Embry-Riddle’s commitment to the Department of Armed Forces and to those who serve the nation. Dr. Butler explained that the Worldwide campus is responding to requests from the Department of Defense to provide education to Armed Service members affected by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. The Embry-Riddle Worldwide campus plans to enact this by opening locations in many Eastern Europe nations.
Following Dr. Butler’s speech, Anselmo returned to the podium to speak on his individual achievements and goals. Anselmo said his work on the mission statement ties into the SGA Strategic Plan, which is an ongoing effort to renew and improve the SGA. Anselmo also mentioned his meetings with the Embry-Riddle Singapore Campus SGA in hopes of establishing a dual-beneficial relationship.
Next semester, Anselmo intends to focus on hosting a Student Leadership Summit – an event to unite leaders from many on-campus organizations to better discuss first-year student integration. Anselmo also stated he will focus on providing opportunities for Embry-Riddle students to better integrate with the Prescott community.
SGA Vice-President, Dylan Astrup was next to present. This semester, Astrup updated the accessibility and useability of the SGA public-facing folder, which increased transparency by allowing students to see SGA open meeting minutes, upcoming proposals, and legislation. Astrup also reported that SGA is operating with over 192 percent of its required in-office hours, meaning SGA council members are more accessible to students. Astrup aims to successfully manage elections next semester, and smooth out the transition process between councils.
SGA Treasurer Anna McLaughlin followed Astrup. McLaughlin praised her newly implemented tiered funding system for student organizations, stating that 60 out of approximately 180 campus organizations have registered. McLaughlin has also been overseeing the Student Treasury Board. In the Spring semester, Mclaughlin hopes to make club funding and funding request forms more accessible to officers and build community service opportunities and incentives for organizations on campus.
Grace Brown, the SGA Secretary, took the podium next. In addition to her secretarial duties, Brown oversaw and grew the Student Outlook Action Resources (SOAR) Auxiliary Organization which provides underclassmen with leadership opportunities. Brown states that next semester she will focus on streamlining conduct and parking appeals processes, and work with SOAR to host a Spirit Week.
Brandon Bostwick, Christopher Sorensen, Cameron Daveney, and Mattysen Short, the SGA Representatives for the colleges of Aviation, Engineering (COE), Business, Security, & Intelligence (CBSI), and Arts and Sciences respectfully, all took turns sharing their semesterly updates and goals for the spring semester.
Short placed emphasis on mental health efforts and her participation in the One Eagle Project. Bostwick worked to get barricades placed in the eroding pool parking lot and added additional dry-erase tables to the Hazy library. Daveney emphasized growing the CBSI community, worked to improve the cross-country trails on campus, and promoted the safe-ride program on campus. Sorensen boosted student-alumni relations through campus events and formed a COE advisory board. Next semester, Sorensen hopes to address campus lighting concerns and install safety mirrors in the maze.
Student Life Representative Reya Neitzel has placed her focus for both semesters on growing the One Eagle Project and establishing the Eagle Clothing Exchange. Neitzel aims to bridge the natural divide between diverse groups of Embry-Riddle students through the One Eagle Project.
“I really wanted to bring them together and show them that, Embry-Riddle students, we should be proud of being at Embry-Riddle, no matter what we do. Because all of our programs are so amazing, and we are really rocking the world in every program we do here. So instead of being divided in our majors or our clubs, I really want everyone to have school pride,” Neitzel told Horizons.
Neitzel stated that she is attempting to remove the stigma around approaching unfamiliar clubs and organizations by encouraging student organizations to offer free food, so students have more incentive to engage.
Neitzel is also building the Eagle Clothing Exchange, a ‘take something, leave something’ closet open to all students.
“It will allow students the opportunity to have the access to the clothing they wish to wear, I feel a lot of students underestimate the power of clothing, clothing is how you really represent yourself to the public,” Neitzel explained, “It will be self-sustaining, and based off a leave one, take one policy, and it will support all our students. Soon we will be starting off on a single rack, hopefully located in the Women’s and Diversity Center.”
SGA Student Life Representative Carson Westman took the podium after Neitzel to discuss his Fall semester progress. This Fall, Westman worked to ensure cross-country trails on campus are upkept, established dining service committees, and hosted tailgates at ERAU sporting events. This Spring, Westman intends to continue improving on-campus dining services, maintain the cross-country trails and improve recycling on campus for students.
SGA Organization Representative Grant Carrabine mentioned OctoberWest’s success and his work helping new student organizations grow. Carrabine is working with Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach and Worldwide campuses to host job search talks and aid students transitioning into life after graduation. Carrabine would also like to create an organization president’s roundtable, bringing together leaders of a broad selection of student organizations.
SGA Marketing Director Bryanna Holguin was the final SGA council member to speak. Holguin mentioned her progress updating the SGA website and her efforts to ensure students and connected to relevant information and their SGA. Holguin states she will continue to improve SGA’s reach through their website and social media accounts.
Next, Student Outlook Action Resources (SOAR) Assistant Director Michael Mercer spoke on his organizations efforts to provide underclassmen with continued leadership opportunities and hold quality events for Embry-Riddle students. Mercer hopes SOAR will host 5 events for students during the spring semester, Spirit Week being the largest.
Mercer told Horizons, “Our main goal is just to really bring the student body together, as Reya was saying with the One Eagle Project, it’s similar in the way that we want to kind of be more inclusive of the colleges rather than have them separated.”
Mercer also mentioned that SOAR is open-ended, and that they are always looking for interested underclassmen to join, He added, “SOAR gives students unique opportunities, like getting to engage with the SGA President and Vice-President.”
Board of Campus Activities Director Lily Davis spoke after and touched on the success of the fifteen events that BCA held during the Fall Semester. Davis directs the BCA team to ensure more quality events are held during the spring semester.
Horizons’ own Chief Copy Editor Julian O’Connor spoke about Horizons Newspaper’s progress over the past semester. O’Connor explained how Horizons has improved quality significantly while also ensuring more relevant news coverage. O’Connor celebrated consistent and informative 24-page issues and mentioned the possibility of expansion.
O’Connor also commented on Horizons’ increased reach and distribution both on and off campus, and online via the Horizons website. O’Connor stated that Horizons is committed to delivering the same relevant and quality content to Embry-Riddle’s staff, students, and faculty through the next semester and beyond.
Following Horizons, Chair of the Student Campus Enhancement Fund (SCEF) Jacob Wolf provided his updates. Wolf said SCEF’s primary contributions during the Fall semester included funding the annual casino night, assistance in funding the OctoberWest drone show, and paying for the refurbishment of the Student Union pool tables.
Wolf also mentioned the alterations to SCEF’s bylaws that accept more funding from SGA, but he reassured attendees this will have no impact on student tuition. In an interview with Horizons, Wolf explained how students can request funding from SCEF for their club, organization, or project by filling out forms located in the SGA office or contacting him directly.
Following updates from SGA council members and other speakers, awards were distributed to exceptional staff, faculty, and student organizations. The award winners are listed below:
Outstanding Faculty Member: Alan Saquella, Sean Jeralds
Outstanding Staff Member: Bea Taylor, Kelsey Tempas
Outstanding New Student Organization: ERAU American Sign Language Club
Outstanding Student Organization: Student Veteran Organization
After receiving her award, Interim Director of Student Engagement Kelsey Tempas stated, “I feel really honored the SGA gave me the Staff Person of the Semester Award. I have been trying really hard this semester, even though our department has been understaffed, to still provide a high level of service to our students, and student organizations. With less humans in our office, it’s something we tried really hard to make happen this semester.”
Tempas also encouraged all students to get involved on campus, adding, “Just pick something, whether that’s getting involved in athletic programs, intramurals, research, student organizations, fraternity or sorority life… we’ve got so many groups on campus, there’s something for everybody.”
In closing, Tempas told Horizons, “I am really proud of our Student Engagement Department…knowing sometimes policies aren’t everyone’s favorite thing but really trying to say yes as often as we can to making awesome events and things happen for student groups.”
When asked how the information shared tonight will be conveyed to the student body, Anselmo responded told Horizons “We have two bulletin boards, one that is placed right outside the SGA door, and one that is placed right behind where the tall SGA sign is [in the student union].”
Anselmo also emphasized the benefits of the new mission statement: “By the time a new President or a new council gets installed, that council kind of just does whatever that council wants, there is no real focus of the SGA on this campus.”
Anselmo went on to explain, “I came into this position wanting to have that focus, making sure that people understand who we are as SGA, and that SGA understands what we are supposed to be doing here on campus…we want to make sure what we are doing is sustained through multiple generations on campus.”
When questioned regarding communication with students, Anselmo said SGA will be conducting an individual qualitative student survey next semester to better determine the needs and desires of the student body. Anselmo ended by encouraging all students to find and take leadership opportunities on campus.
Horizons also was able to interview Chancellor Dr. Anette Karlsson. Dr. Karlsson continued to applaud SGA for establishing a mission statement. Dr. Karlsson mentioned that this is the first-year things are back to normal post-COVID, and that during COVID, the SGA struggled to keep the student body engaged.
“This group has really worked hard to not only get the students engaged in different activities but also to review what SGA actually stands for,” Dr. Karlsson stated, “It’s possible that the rest of campus hasn’t seen that, because its [SGA] has been so focused on solving internal SGA issues right now.”
Dr. Karlsson anticipates a significant difference on campus next year “based on what they [SGA] have done this year [so far].”
On the capital improvement projects being planned, Karlsson stated, “I think with the new projects we’ll get a much more functional campus, and it will be beautiful…we are making sure that we take into [account] the natural landscape we have here.”
The Student Government Association Fall Address was full of relevant and valuable information. The annual Fall Address is typically open to all students, and students can register online, although attendance is capped.