After his three-year membership with the SGA, A.J. Pruitt geared up for his fourth year of leadership Tuesday night when he became student body president for the 2017-18 academic year.
A crowd of about 50 students and faculty gathered in Stamp Student Union’s Juan Ramon Jiménez Room, where Linda Clement, this university’s vice president for student affairs, inaugurated the new student government. Pruitt, three executive members and 34 legislators took oaths of office.
In his inaugural speech, Pruitt recalled the words of Sir Isaac Newton to describe his vision for the Student Government Association: “If I’ve seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
In order to be successful representatives, SGA members have to “take all of the great leadership” on the campus and “figure out how to be catalysts for that leadership,” Pruitt said.
“The only way that this year is successful is by empowering students and making sure that their voice isn’t only heard through us, but that they hear their own voice,” said Pruitt, a junior economics and government and politics major.
As a freshman, Pruitt served as SGA parliamentarian for the 2014-15 academic year, before becoming deputy city affairs liaison his sophomore year. Pruitt then took on an executive cabinet position as the vice president of student affairs before running for president with the One Party for the upcoming year.
After working with Pruitt this year as a member of the student affairs committee, Elizabeth Crosley, the new off-campus neighboring representative, said he inspired her to run for a legislative position.
“Every time he talks, he inspires me to make changes and voice concerns,” said Crosley, a sophomore criminology major. “I’m excited to be a part of his presidency because I know he can do such great things.”
Fasika Delessa, SGA’s former vice president of academic affairs, addressed the new legislature with parting words of advice, which included the importance of treating one another with respect.
“I remember sitting where you are today as a freshman years ago and being told that the SGA is what you make of it, and while that is true, I think that is only half the story,” said Delessa, a junior management major. “So much of the SGA is not only what you make of it, but is really grounded in teamwork and what coming together means and being surrounded by these people.”
Christine Hagan, who is taking over Delessa’s position, said she would like to continue a lot of the things Delessa started working on, such as increasing textbook affordability for students and proposing an initiative for a student shuttle from the campus to Annapolis. Hagan said she is looking forward to initiating her own ideas as well, such as diversifying SGA committees by reaching out to more students on the campus.
“I want to make sure I am doing more outreach and bringing more students into SGA and get more diverse students, and to get a better sense of what students want,” said Hagan, a junior environmental science and government and politics major.
During the inauguration, Clement said she was proud of the many initiatives the SGA accomplished this year, including supporting sexual misconduct prevention training, raising money for the Student Leadership Grant and establishing an online mental health information portal.
Madelyn Schaeffer attended the event to support Crosley, her friend, but noted she “liked a lot of things on the One Party’s platform,” including promises to improve campus Wi-Fi. The sophomore public policy major is excited to hear more about the SGA’s plans, as she knew little about the SGA during her freshman year before Crosley became involved, she said.
Outgoing SGA President Katherine Swanson, in her final speech to the SGA, said it is important for the organization to work together like a family.
“The best thing they can do is become friends and help each other and work together in that way,” said Swanson, a senior government and politics major. “But I want them to remember to work as hard as they can and that this an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get, so they should make the most of it.”