SGA tries to be more welcoming by implementing Hot Seat Initiative

Student Government Association Sens. Ben Griffith and Jamie Cardenas passed the “Hot Seat Initiative” in December, in an attempt to better connect with students and gauge popular opinion.

The initiative involves the association setting up inflatable couches — the “hot seats” — around campus that students can relax in and share their ideas with SGA.

“This is just a way to interact with students in a less formal, more casual, conversational style,” Griffith said.

Griffith, who proposed the initiative in the fall, said that he intended the plan to facilitate “more informal conversation with students” and to reach a wider audience.

“It’s been a problem that students don’t really understand what SGA does,” Griffith said. “[The initiative] is really just a way to start a dialogue and have a conversation with students.”

SGA’s first Hot Seat event was during the Homecoming tailgate.

“People really enjoyed it,” Cardenas said. “We are hoping that once we get our next date going that people really appreciate it.”

Both senators acknowledged that most students are uncomfortable presenting their ideas to SGA, but said that they hoped the initiative would change that.

“We want them to feel comfortable talking to us,” Griffith said. “We like talking with students.”

Cardenas said that although SGA has tried reaching students with a variety of methods, like tabling and sending out newsletters, they weren’t “getting the student attention [we] really wanted.”

“By going out to different areas of campus, we’ll reach a different audience everywhere we go…” Cardenas said.

Cardenas said that she likes the idea of “being more visible around campus” and getting out of the SGA office, where members typically hold their office hours.

“A lot of the office hours that we hold are in the SGA office,” Griffith said. “In discussion with a couple other senators, [they said] that they want to step outside of that in order to reach more students and garner different perspectives.”

The couches, the senators said, would help get association members out of the office and interacting more with students, which is their goal.

“We are the student body, we’re the representation of the student body, so we really want the students to feel that we are all one,” Cardenas said.

Currently, SGA is considering two tentative dates for the next Hot Seat event: one in early March, and another at the end of March.

Another date in April is also being considered, but the senators said they are hesitant to put one in April in light of the election season, because they don’t want students to confuse the hot seat plan with campaigning efforts.