As is the case with so many things at Sweet Briar, our Student Government Association exists because students created it. It was founded in 1906 — during the College’s first year — by Sweet Briar students, who wished to take control of non-academic matters on their campus.
What is the SGA, and how does it work?
Every Sweet Briar student is an automatic member of the SGA. Sweet Briar’s SGA board is made up of 21 elected members from all four classes. We have meetings every second and fourth Monday night of each month and discuss a plethora of things, from budget requests by clubs and organizations to our two annual blood drives. These meetings are public and open to all students and faculty who wish to attend. Students may also bring forth concerns and use these meetings as a platform to use their voice. Many of the members that sit on this board also sit as non-board members on various committees of the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors.
On the SGA board, we have our president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, electoral officer, publicity officer, non-academic judicial chairwoman, academic judicial chairwoman, academic affairs chairwoman, Inter-club Council president, Campus Events Organization president, non-traditional student chairwoman, inclusivity liaison and the presidents and vice presidents of each class.
What does the SGA do?
Each organization has a vital role on campus. For example, each set of class officers — consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary — is in charge of maintaining the traditions of each class, such as Junior Banquet, as well as representing their class at SGA meetings. The SGA Executive Committee is responsible for interpreting the SGA Constitution, along with the students and the other members of the board. The inclusivity liaison is responsible for holding events that raise awareness and promote a culture of acceptance and diversity on this wonderful campus. This fall, our inclusivity liaison, Olivia Byrd, led a committee that planned our first-ever Sunrise Service at the Sweet Briar Plantation Burial Ground for the enslaved families. This is just one example of the great work that our SGA board is doing.
Our non-traditional student chairwoman represents all of the students who did not take the traditional college route, such as international students, non-residential students, Turning Point students (those 23 and older) and transfer students. The CEO president and her board are the masterminds behind many large and small events on campus and promote Sweet Briar’s social life. The Inter-club Council president makes sure campus clubs are accountable for their actions and regulates their community service outreach. Our academic affairs chairwoman and her committee, all elected members, are the liaisons between faculty and students and ensure that curriculum, course offerings and faculty decisions are done while keeping student interests in mind. Our judicial chairwomen, academic and non-academic, are responsible for handling violations of our Honor Code through a student-elected board.
Why do we need the SGA?
As a whole, the board has a large role in influencing changes to the Sweet Briar community. For example, in the 2015-2016 school year, the board had a voice in changing the system in which guests come onto campus by changing it from a paper system to an electronic system that alerts students of their visitors’ arrival. We have formed a Dining Services Committee to allow students to communicate effectively with our food services company, as well as created a Campus Safety Committee to do a similar thing, just with a different organization. These committees are formed not because there is a problem, but to ensure that on a campus as small as this one, student voices are heard on matters that affect us.
Caroline Thomas ’19 is a student-athlete from Appomattox. A business major with a minor in journalism, new media and communications, Caroline is the Student Government Association president for 2018-19 and the student admissions ambassador chairwoman.