OU Student Government Association leaders discussed accomplishments and upcoming initiatives to improve student access and inclusivity, and inaugurated Campus Activities Council Chair Francesca Losh in a Monday State of the SGA Address.
The CAC is SGA’s programming branch, which helps plan university-wide events including OU Dance Marathon, Howdy Week and University Sing. Losh, who is a chemical biosciences senior from Chicago, ran on a platform emphasizing outreach, retention and financial accessibility. She said in her State of the SGA speech that she’s excited to collaborate with the CAC executive and general councils, and the group’s members.
Losh said OU is the only school in the Big 12 that has a student government programming branch, which provides university-wide events for almost 80,000 attendees annually.
“CAC gave me a home on campus when I decided that it would be a good idea to move 12 hours away from home,” Losh said. “It allowed me to connect with so many incredible leaders inside and outside the organization and make friendships that I know will last long after I leave OU.”
Losh told The Daily after being inaugurated that her first priority in office is building relationships with students involved in New Sooner Orientation and Camp Crimson. She also said she wants to ensure incoming students in the fall feel welcome through CAC’s outreach to other campus groups.
Graduate Student Senate Chair Claire Burch said her main goal for this school year was increasing membership, and the group grew from including 73 senators to 77. Out of those current senators, 60 haven’t served previously, and the senate added representatives from nine departments it hadn’t included before.
Burch said she also wanted to build GSS’s visibility on campus. Currently, senate leaders are meeting with deans and associate deans of the Graduate College twice a semester. They’ve also coordinated with the Undergraduate Student Congress and SGA executive leadership to ensure conversations with administrators include the graduate student perspective.
SGA President Zack Lissau reflected on the past school year, saying student leaders across campus have risen to the needs of the university community, which encompasses students from more than 44 states and 125 countries.
“I can report that we are nearing the end of a challenging year — a year that was filled with hope, but doubt,” Lissau said. “Yet most of all, it was a year filled with pride. Pride for one another, pride for being able to do great things and pride for students who have been able to challenge and to reinvent the meaning of what the status quo is.”
The OU student body prioritizes intentional action, which was evidenced by over 4,000 volunteers who participated in the Big Event, Lissau said. SGA was able to mirror this emphasis by expanding its funding from reaching 152 student groups in 2021 to 178 this year.
SGA has visited the Oklahoma State Capitol to protest legislation multiple times recently, and students have met with more than 100 lawmakers in this legislative session, Lissau said. Groups like the OU Undergraduate Student Congress have also passed their own legislation, including April 20 resolutions supporting transgender students and advocating for a requirement that mandatory Holocaust and antisemitism education to be taught in public schools grades six through 12.
It’s no secret that our world is hurting with violent actions happening in different parts of the world,” Lissau said. “We as SGA recognize the impact that these actions and these events have on our student population.”
Undergraduate Student Congress Chair Crispin South said this address serves as a farewell speech for him, as last Tuesday was his final Congress meeting before he graduates. Since he joined Congress in the fall of 2019, he said he’s witnessed many fellow members using their strong personalities to advocate for the student body.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, South said student leaders pushed for more flexible academic policies, including more flexible attendance and a pass/no pass policy. They’ve advocated at the state level for increased higher education funding, and at the university level for more flexible parking policies and stronger food insecurity solutions.
South encouraged his successor, Lacey Lewis, and future SGA leaders to continue to fight for inclusivity, and emphasized that “OU excellence” should be affordable and attainable.
“As elected student leaders, we serve a unique and diverse constituency,” South said. “They’re our classmates, they’re friends, they’re people sitting across from us in the Union. Every time we face a new challenge, we think of them and … on behalf of our peers, we will do what is hard. We will do what is right, and with all of our strength, we will fight the good fight.”