Since joining freshman year, SGA President Alexa Bueltel had never seen a student appointed to the graduate member-at-large position.
Today, the organization swore in Lauren Smith, a second semester graduate student, to fill the member-at-large position.
SGA also appointed two undergraduate students to the University Court.
As part of the Master’s of Public Administration program, Smith said her goal is to work at the university level.
“USI seems to be geared toward undergraduates,” Smith said. “We have over 850 graduate students. I wanted them to be able to have representation.”
She said she would like the university to provide help for graduate students in developing resumes as well as to offer more career guidance.
“I’d like to see a graduate mentor program, where undergraduates are paired with graduate students,” Smith said. “Like a buddy program.”
Several general assembly members said they knew Smith was recruiting other students to fill SGA positions despite not even being an official member.
Smith is already receiving feedback from a survey she put out for graduate students to get a feel for what that demographic wants improved. So far, she has 165 responses.
President Bueltel and the general assembly only listed “pros” as opposed to “cons” when deciding to appoint Smith.
“I’m excited to get a different perspective,” Bueltel said. “Graduate students and undergraduate students are at such different parts of our lives.”
She said she hadn’t even seen anyone try to fill the graduate member-at-large position before, although Financial Officer Aaron McCullough is a graduate student.
“I’m glad to see someone taking initiative to fill (the position,)” Bueltel said. “(I’m excited about) the fact that she made a survey and already has responses.”
Bueltel hopes that Smith’s appointment will lead to more graduate student representation in SGA.
“(Smith) cares about the organization,” Bueltel said, “and she hasn’t technically been in it until today.”