By Erin Papakostas ’23 and Skylar McVicar ’23
Staff Writer and Et Cetera Editor
Though a majority of Davidson College students have left campus, the Student Government Association (SGA) continues to serve the student body, addressing its needs at home. SGA’s response to COVID-19 focuses resources remotely to solve challenges students have faced since leaving campus.
Three weeks ago, as the Davidson community packed their belongings to return home, SGA organized ways to support students through a turbulent time. In addition to offering free shuttles to the airport, first year representative Elly Hensley ‘23 mentioned, “SGA members met to discuss what students would need most during the transition to remote learning. We bought three storage lockers to be used by students, and we shared a spreadsheet of resources offered by alumni. The spreadsheet included airline miles, hotel rewards points, garage space, and even housing.”
Although now limited to virtual resources, SGA’s mission to provide for the student body has not changed, and they continue to meet weekly to find new ways to address student needs. Senior Class President Caroline Roddey ‘20 commented, “Everyone is still allowed to come to our meetings on Thursday, and SGA is continuing to try to connect students both on and off campus with resources that they could need. For example, SGA sent out a survey last week to see how students are adjusting to the transition and to see what is needed from SGA.”
SGA President Brandon Harris ‘22 stated, “We’re in constant communication with various administrators. Oğuzhan [Çölkesen] and I meet weekly with [Dean of Students Byron] McCrae. We’re constantly providing student feedback to administration so that appropriate adjustments can be made to how the college is handling the overall situation.”
SGA works to uphold normalcy in this difficult time; in addition to the weekly senate meetings, Harris said, “Representatives are also continuing to meet in smaller groups to discuss possible solutions to the difficulties that students are currently facing.”
“In regards to supporting students during distance learning, we are gathering online resources in one place for students to access on our webpage. We also are creating a spreadsheet of remote activities, like book clubs and online gaming events, for students to edit and participate in,” Hensley commented.
Roddey expressed SGA’s consideration for student health resources while away from campus. “The Health & Wellbeing Committee is still collaborating with Dr. [David] Graham, [Director of Student Health and Wellbeing], to ensure that Health Center resources are provided to students and made as accessible as possible,” Roddey said.
Since seniors won’t return to campus in the fall, Roddey explained that the senior SGA senators are working with administration on senior-specific topics, like the commencement ceremony.
“All of the senior senators participated in a call with several administration members to discuss the plans for our postponed commencement and discuss how we’ve felt left out of a lot of the campus-wide discussions,” Roddey commented.
To Roddey, the postponement of the commencement ceremony, while not unexpected, was particularly disappointing. “I’m really grateful that Davidson is working really hard to ensure that we still have a proper commencement ceremony, and I plan to continue working with the other senior senators and with the administration to ensure that this ceremony is as meaningful and as accessible as possible for all seniors and their families.”
Though not the way he envisioned starting his presidency, Harris, like all SGA senators, will continue to prioritize the needs of Davidson’s student body. Harris noted, “My main priority as SGA President is to lead the organization in a way that puts students’ needs first. In SGA, we have found many ways to support students through the transition, and I am confident that we will continue to find ways to help students to overcome the challenges they are going through during this time.” SGA meetings convene Thursdays at 4:30pm EST through this Zoom link: https://davidson.zoom.us/j/656338376.