I’m Payce Shepard, I’m running for Vice President of student government, and I want to be as transparent as possible about how I plan to act if elected. I think that this next year is probably going to be the most important year that SGA has ever had. While our students stand strong, the pandemic has frankly ravaged campus spirit causing more community fragmentation than ever. I will not approach this year with a “yeah this is going to be a great year” attitude. I will approach this year with a “THIS NEEDS TO BE THE BEST YEAR EVER” attitude not only because I believe in it but because it absolutely needs to happen.
I think SGA is in a unique position to ignite the campus community by providing an environment where flourishing is prioritized. SGA has the power to give the students a platform and resources for the community building that we all need. If you elect me I will, no joke, do everything in my power to make this next year as exciting and engaging as I possibly can. I will do this not only for you but for me as well.
Student Government is filled with wonderful people who simply want to get things done efficiently and as Vice President, I want to work towards streamlining that process. I believe that there are various inaccuracies in the student government system that make it difficult to make substantive change and move forward. While SGA may have “government” in the title I feel that it is a misleading title in terms of what the body actually does. Frankly, I believe SGA is a volunteer organization equipped with limited financial power and a slightly amplified voice. My experience as class of 2022 chair for the academic year 2019-2020 has taught me much about the current process. Many of the students work incredibly hard for no financial compensation or college credit to keep clubs organized, work on building campus communities, and effect positive utility change on campus. Because of the nature of what needs to be done on campus to keep the organizational quality satisfactory a tremendous amount of effort falls on a few students. My focus as Vice President would be this:
- Break down the barriers between Student Government and the Wheaton Administration
I would advocate for a more transparent relationship between the two that allows the student body to more accurately keep the Administration accountable (like looking into Wheaton investment into fossil fuels for example). Thus, in effect, I would be trying to tweak the ways that Wheaton college functions into a more participatory structure between students and administrators instead of having the two function as two solely independent bodies. I believe SGA acting as an accurate intermediary between administration and the student body is of utmost importance.
- Break down the barriers between Student Government and the Student body.
I do not believe that being elected the students in SGA are given a better ability to understand what Wheaton’s issues. Thus, in order to become more than just a small self righteous sample size of students with slightly louder voices than the rest of the Wheaton Students, I think senate meetings should be steered by the will of the student body itself. This of course, is no easy task and will require an engagement campaign of massive proportions but I think that it’s completely necessary in order for SGA to be effective. I propose that this also would require procedural changes as well to make the relationship between the two more participatory. I believe the enactment of town halls and frequent polls would be a step in this direction. As I reiterate: SGA is a volunteer organization and would benefit massively the more volunteer effort it has.
- Break down the barriers between various parts of Student government itself.
While it makes sense that SGA operates in different specialized bodies it seems to me the more cohesive the overall structure becomes, the more effective effort can be delegated. This would be achieved through a more relaxed (but still focused) style of facilitation and socialization between student bodies. Examples of how this could be done include: a retreat at the beginning of the year (which worked very well when done in 2019), more scattered informal gatherings, and town halls.
Overall, my focus will be on efficiency and communication to make sure this next year is the best year ever.
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