It is a vicious cycle.
Influencing the university has become a challenge for the Virginia Tech Student Government Association.
Every government struggles with bureaucracy in passing legislation and initiating change and, in past years, the SGA has faced that obstacle consistently.
The SGA, founded on the principle of representing the student body and affecting change on campus, has seen their power as an organization dwindle as their two main projects, Relay for Life and the Big Event, have broken away.
Both Relay for Life and the Big Event are major events on Tech's campus, and their split from SGA control was a mutual decision.
“Those programs specifically stayed away from what Student Government has tried to be as an organization, as an advocate for students and as an organization and resource to help really speak to student issues,” said Dustin Dorph, president of SGA.
Relieved from the burden of organizing and handling the events, SGA has instead turned inward, taking the opportunity to self-evaluate and consider ways to change and become more effective.
But change is not easy.
The SGA and Graduate Student Assembly have been combating issues of governance since the beginning of the year. Specifically, Dorph and Angelica Smith, vice president of the SGA, reviewed the organization’s history over the summer to evaluate the university’s governance structure.
“There have been times in our history where we were extremely strong,” Dorp said. “It’s very dependent on the type of people and the caliber of student leaders we have in the organization.”
In 1972, the organization was able to create and pass legislation that admitted Greek life on campus, a huge accomplishment for the group. However, in recent years, they have struggled with sustaining a strong influence on campus.
“A reoccurring theme has been questioning the purpose of student government on this campus,” Smith said.
With that in mind, Dorph and Smith began the year by placing more emphasis on student governance and reviewing their organization as a whole. They have taken a close look at their bylaws to simplify processes, ensure consistency and clarify positions within the organizations.