When someone asks me how I think these next two semesters will pan out, I immediately think of three words: exciting, busy and fast.
These words could aptly describe the tone not just of how quickly and interesting I feel my last year at UTD and with Student Government will be, but are more than adequate of the university as a whole.
By the end of my first year, the flowery Student Union mall where I’d attended “Rock the Vote” in the fall was replaced with bulldozers and mud, and the field next to my apartment had a nearly complete residence hall. Year two kicked off with freshmen shaking us out of our excitement about a dining hall with the reality that the hours, well, weren’t the most convenient, and closed with an end to the over two-decade-long battle for alcohol in The Pub. From the whirlwind that was year three, emerged the completion of the Science Learning Center, Student Services Building, a second residence hall and a visitors’ center complete with a college bookstore. Not one of these projects broke ground before I got here.
Of course, the physical advancements have not gone unmatched — or unchallenged — by our ever bulging student population. Even as we threaten to tip the scale over 18,500 this fall, we remain some of the most competitive and scholastically impressive students you’ll find in the state. From Fullbright and Truman recipients to students that juggle neuroscience studies and ASC championships, we’ve got quite a group to brag about.
As exciting as the past three years have been, I have to admit that I am thrilled this is my last. Part of that thrill is knowing how impactful this final year might be and how many opportunities students will have to be a part of it, especially if they give any notice to Student Government.
One of the challenges Student Government faces every year with our growing student body is simply keeping up. Forty two students to represent a few thousand is a challenge – forty two to represent several thousand growing exponentially in a short amount of time with little growing student involvement is just not feasible. For the past three years, it has too often been said, “Student Government does not represent me.” As someone who has had an exceptional experience and opportunity to change the campus for the better through years of Student Government involvement, I personally accept the challenge. The challenge to show students that Student Government does work for them and is open to new ideas is at the forefront of conversations of change. Student Government’s role is to be the voice of the campus; however, we cannot do it alone. We need students to get involved and leave their marks. This year has the potential to offer countless opportunities.
And sure, we are addressing the design of the fourth residence hall to come and the Texas primary election in the spring, but especially noteworthy is the opportunity students have to leave a legacy at UTD.
Students serving on the Core Curriculum Committee are going to examine and determine if the core, as it is now, is what students need. The current math and science requirements of the UTD core face potential cuts which would possibly alter, for good or bad, the appearance of the studious stereotype every UTD student is emblazoned with upon acceptance. Other students volunteering with Student Government committees will find an issue ignited by passion and pursue it to the end, whether that’s another new minor, policy change, or, dear to my heart, more art installations on campus. These opportunities to get involved and leave tangible marks don’t exist with other campuses – and no other organization can help a student achieve these changes more than Student Government.
These are changes, of course, that not all of us will be able to stick around and watch happen — but maybe it’s finally our turn to bow out and let a new, younger audience be amazed by what UTD can do in a short amount of time.
So, how do I see these next two semesters going? As exciting as we make it, as busy as we can handle, and much faster than we’re able to realize.