The transition from high school to college for incoming freshmen can be daunting. Many students mention feeling lost during their first year, learning to balance a social life alongside college-level classes.
The Student Government Association (SGA) is taking proactive measures this semester to engender a stronger sense of community on campus. Spearheading this effort is SGA president Leila Bouchekouk, who has made inclusivity and justice her mission while in her position.
“I knew when I first stepped on campus I had a small bucket list of things I want to accomplish and this is one of them, but it wasn’t just a checkmark to come off. It was a huge part of believing in myself, people believing in me, and supporting me along the way… I had a coach that once said, ‘If you’re nervous that means you care.’ I feel like people’s issues are my issues.”
She describes herself as a ready advocate for the student body, defining the role as, “Taking on the role of diagnosing and assessing what issues that our students are having, finding solutions, and working with administrators… to implement those solutions.”
One of the changes this semester is to streamline communication between the student body and the SGA.
“This year we have a texting program… We used to say in the past, ‘if there are any problems just come visit us in the office’ but it’s a little intimidating to come to visit someone in the office that you don’t know.” Bouchekouk continued, “I think it’s less intimidating to text… so we encourage people who have issues to text.”
The three goals for Bouchekouk and the SGA are diversity, inclusion, affordability, and connecting more with students.
A committee dedicated to diversity and inclusivity issues has already been set up. In addition, they are figuring ways to approach diversity inclusion in academic affairs, clubs, and other aspects of student life.
Bouchekouk says, “It’s taking those little steps to diversity inclusion. It’s not one committee’s work, it’s our entire student government. How do we make inclusive space for everyone on campus?”
The SGA is also working with the Dean of Kemp Library to advertise affordable textbooks.
“We’re trying to continue to advocate and fight for [students], but also in tangible ways. We say this in student government all the time, ‘we’ve talked the talk but it’s time to show results.’” Bouchekouk said.
She credits her drive as SGA president and her sense of justice to her parents, who have made sacrifices for her and her siblings’ futures, as well as each student at ESU who she wholeheartedly believes deserve to be noticed, heard, and treated justly.