By Jonathon May, Ed.D., Director of Student Affairs
It was only about five years ago that the Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences worked with students to form a new Student Government Association (SGA). Before this time, each academic program had its own SGA for its programs. This meant the college had 19 different SGAs operating at the same time, which created some confusion among students and staff members.
This confusion also was present at the NSU campuses, where each campus has its own campus SGA, which in name seemed to compete with the academic program groups. It was clear that something needed to change in the student governance structure.
Fortunately, Brad Williams, Ed.D., NSU dean of student affairs, reached out to the college’s SGA leaders and invited them to participate in a retreat where they were challenged to find a working solution to these problems. This invitation was extended to both Fort Lauderdale/Davie and other campus leaders.
Students from all campuses gathered to discuss ideas and possible solutions. They felt very strongly that the Fort Lauderdale/Davie groups and the campus groups should merge leadership into one SGA that would represent the college at all campuses—a new model of student governance for NSU. The students formed a committee and drafted a new constitution that would provide leadership and govern the new organization.
During the past three years, the new constitution provided the foundation for decisions, changes, and new development for the SGA. In this short time, the SGA presidents formed an executive board and made decisions about budget allocations. In the first year, the presidents created an intentional budget request process that included all groups making requests for funds from a general fund.
More recently, a new administration came in that wanted to change the budget allocations process to one that divided the funding earlier by headcount percentages in each program. This streamlined the process and allowed all groups to access additional funding in a more efficient way. These funding changes will allow the SGA to focus on other important issues, such as addressing student concerns.
Recently, the SGA presidents met with the Martin and Gail Press Health Professions Division Library staff members and addressed concerns they had about the computer labs and access to study rooms. The presidents also reached out to the NSU Office of Public Safety and the Office of Facilities Management to host talks about campus safety in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting tragedy.
Their plan is to host an HPD-wide student event where students can learn about what is being done on campus to keep us safe and provide their input. It has been amazing to see the transformation of this group over the last five years.