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OU SGA to 'put their money where their mouth is': New administration aims for legacy of integrity, kindness

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Justin Norris

Student Government Association president Justin Norris speaks at the OU SGA inauguration Dec. 3, 2019.

This semester, leaders of the OU Student Government Association plan to emphasize collaboration across organizations and the student body, along with more proactive planning for upcoming semesters. 

Both the executive branch and the Undergraduate Student Congress look forward to the communication between new members of SGA, and hope to increase dialogue among different campus communities like Greek life, the Graduate Student Senate and Campus Activities Council this semester.

Recently inaugurated SGA President Justin Norris said he wants to focus on creating a cabinet for the new SGA presidential administration, with applications open until Jan. 16 on the SGA executive branch portal on OrgSync. Norris said he will also be planning for his Greek Inclusivity Officer initiative and Diversity & Inclusion Action Week in the coming months — the first platform points he wants to encourage collaboration with. 

During his campaign, Norris said the Greek Inclusivity Officer initiative would establish an inclusivity officer in each Greek organization on campus to be more proactive in handling racism and other common problematic behaviors. 

Norris said many new leaders are slated to take leadership positions in the five Greek councils, so getting acquainted with them will help facilitate the initiative. 

“Just ... hearing their opinions, working it out and then working on implementing the tangible solution (is important),” Norris said. “Now it’s just a matter of really sitting here and saying, ‘So we want this to happen. How can we make it the most beneficial for everyone involved in Greek life at the university?’”

Norris said his administration will include offices across campus in planning for Diversity & Inclusion Action Week events as well. 

The Diversity & Inclusion Action Week — a new series of programmed events for students — was a major platform point during Dalton Gau and Norris’ campaign, and Norris said they continue to prioritize it. 

“(We want to focus on) just really communicating with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Gender + Equality Center, Multicultural Student Program, just starting those conversations, so that way … we can really get the programming set up now, so it can be implemented at the beginning of next semester, if not the end of this semester,” Norris said.

Norris’ chief of staff, Renata Emini, said her goal is to coordinate projects across the administration’s cabinet, which will first meet Jan. 20. Emini said she looks forward to working closely with the other cabinet members.

“One of the big things that I’m looking forward to is just having a group of people in our cabinet that I can go to when Justin and Dalton need something,” Emini said. “I can go to anyone else in the cabinet and ask them and get their input on it. And … I want to be there for them and get things done for them.” 

Norris said creating working relationships with leaders in other branches of SGA and across campus is also a big priority. 

“(We want to make sure) that we have a good relationship with everybody,” Norris said. “So that way, as the term goes on, whenever we need to get something done, it’s not a matter of reacquainting ourselves with people, but more so just making it more casual.” 

Norris said he also wants to foster a collaborative relationship with the student body. 

“If (students) feel like something should be added to the agenda, or something should be brought to light, then we want to hear it,” Norris said. “So, again, reestablishing that (conversational) style of leadership now that everyone’s back on campus.”

Norris said he already has a good relationship with SGA Chair Emma DeAngeli, and SGA Vice President Gau’s connection to congress will be an asset in collaboration with other congressional leaders. 

“I’m pretty confident in (DeAngeli’s and my) ability to really make sure that it’s a smooth line of communication between the (executive) branch and congress, and also (Gau) — having been a committee chair in congress — he also has that connection to a lot of the members,” Norris said. “So I think that it’ll be a very easy transition into a respectable communication stream.”

DeAngeli said one of her main priorities for her final semester in congress is laying the groundwork for future semesters. She said she hopes to increase open communication with other SGA groups, like the Graduate Student Senate, the SGA presidential administration, and the Campus Activities Council. 

“I have a unique perspective on seeing how the (executive) branch functioned last semester, so (I plan on) mostly helping (Norris) see what his goals are and helping him accomplish that within the SGA framework,” DeAngeli said. 

DeAngeli plans to continue joint resolutions with GSS and continue conversations between the two groups. She also said congress involved CAC in the planning of its events last semester, and hopes to continue to work with them this semester. 

“I hope to continue with that and … maybe codify it since it’s not in the code anywhere, and it’s sort of a new program,” DeAngeli said. 

DeAngeli also looks forward to seeing how the newest members of congress impact the body’s priorities in the next few months. 

“It’s always really great getting new members because they come with a lot of different ideas and a lot of new passion, so that’s going to be really cool,” DeAngeli said. “And we also have a couple of new committee chairs … but I think in general … it’s going to be about their ideas and what they’re passionate about.” 

Overall, Norris said he hopes the OU community will remember his upcoming administration for its integrity and kindness. 

“If we say that we’re for students, or that we’re for promoting diversity, if we’re for listening to people and creating a safe campus, then we’re going to be for it,” Norris said. “That’s the same kind of ideology that I really want to carry through our entire time as president and vice president, so that way, whenever we leave office, everyone can kind of look back and say, ‘Wow, they really put their money where their mouth is.’” 

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