Eastern Michigan University’s Student Government Association President Matthew Norfleet offered a State of the Student Body speech Monday in the Student Center, addressing the SGA’s top priorities and accomplishments.
Similar to the State of the Union address conducted by the U.S. President to Congress—which shares the situations of the nation and provides legislative agenda— the State of the Student Body address is given to promote awareness of the conditions surrounding the SGA and university overall.
SGA Vice President Desmond Miller, opened the speech by introducing Norfleet and said that if it wasn’t for the SGA president, he himself probably would not have joined the organization.
Norfleet began the speech by reassuring the crowd that the SGA is committed to integrity and service through actions, and being SGA president has been a “humbling” experience.
He said that student government has served to raise support through leadership and dedication.
Three of the key main points addressed in Norfleet’s speech were: accessibility, sustainability and improvement.
“Improving the campus community is our priority,” Norfleet said.
He also talked about the health and fitness of the student body and upgrading the Rec/IM center.
“The Recreation and Intramural Sports Complex as well as the Snow Health Center are both in dire need of renovation, expansion or replacement,” Norfleet said. “As the university administration is in agreement about the need to update and modernize these facilities, we understand this need as well and are happy to advocate for this modernization of our campus.”
He said modernizing EMU included improving the Internet connectivity on campus.
Many students are enroleld in hybrid or technology-based courses, but cannot reliably connect their personal computers to the university’s network.
Norfleet said by the fall of 2014, 100 percent of the campus would offer advanced Wi-Fi services.
Norfleet said the SGA would look into the implementation of gender neutral and family locker rooms at the Rec/IM.
He also said the action looks to include one gender-neutral restroom in every building on campus to stop the marginalization of transgender students.
“We must fulfill their needs,” Norfleet said, “This is about equality. On a university campus such as ours, one that prides itself on inclusion and being amongst the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the nation, it is unacceptable that we would not provide for the most basic sanitation needs of our students.”
He said that implementing community meal plans that would work for students at local restaurant establishments would “decrease the financial burden” students face.
Norfleet said that a plan was in action to apply low-cost bus passes to EMU students, especially for those who need to get to work or simply enjoy the city life.
“These bus passes would provide unlimited ridership on each of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s twenty-nine fixed routes as well as discounted fares on non-fixed route services,” Norfleet said.
Another issue that Norfleet discussed was the establishment of the EMU Student Government Gateway Scholarship Program. This is a privately funded scholarship program that will subsidize the cost of attendance for undocumented Michigan residents who have to pay out-of-state tuition rates.
David Fielder, public law and justice major at EMU said that Norfleet’s speech was very informative.
“I knew how much student government did, but I didn’t realize how much they were getting done as far as things going forward and how many ideas that [Norfleet] implemented that are going through now as opposed to three or four years later,” Fielder said.
Norfleet ended his speech by saying, “We have the power to make this change, and that change comes when we exercise our voice.”
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