The Student Government Association recently started pushing for a new initiative to form a student government coalition amongst other New Jersey colleges and universities and their student governments.
This initiative is being spearheaded by Santiago Cabrera, a sophomore economy and finance major who is the head of the Village Relations Committee in SGA, along with the rest of the Village Relations Committee.
The initiative will kick off with a Student Government Conference that is currently being put together. Cabrera recently sent out a letter to several other student governments throughout the state inviting them to participate in this conference. The letter was endorsed by the Student Senate at the most recent SGA meeting.
According to Cabrera, the purpose of this conference is to create an opportunity for these student governments to network, share common issues they face and how they are addressing these issues.
In reference to this conference, Cabrera believes that this is the first step towards forming the desired coalition. The purpose of this forming coalition is to address the issue of college affordability.
“This idea was inspired by doing research,” Cabrera said. “We seem to be constantly dealing with the same broad problems, such as college affordability.”
Cabrera has noted that college affordability is a common problem brought to SGA by Seton Hall students.
While it is often brought up, Cabrera believes that this is an issue that needs to be addressed amongst several different colleges; this is not only because many other colleges and universities are facing this issue but because several voices together will make their calls for action louder.
Jarrod Jackson, a senior sociology and Africana Studies major, believes that this initiative can be beneficial for several groups of people, especially first-gen students because he believes a lot of them come from financial hardship and/or do not fully understand financial aid.
Jackson also believes that a lot of research should be done, especially on how free or low tuition colleges remain functional as well as collecting testimonials from students on the issue.
College affordability is not the only topic that has been thought of within the planning stage of this conference and coalition.
Cabrera mentioned that it was an option to make the Newark water crisis the focus of the conference because he believes that initiatives like this one allow them to address broader topics that affect more than just Seton Hall or any one university.
Earlier this semester, Seton Hall did address the Newark water crisis in several different ways. The Division of Volunteer Efforts, DOVE, hosted a bottled water drive to collect donations as well as handed out bottled water to students, faculty, and staff members that were affected by the Newark water crisis.
Several other organizations on campus hosted their initiatives to help those affected by the Newark water crisis.
Regarding college affordability, Cabrera believes that progress has been made here at Seton Hall, “by augmenting scholarship opportunities and centralizing them into the University’s merit-based scholarship.”
Adara Gonzalez, a senior marketing and international business major, believes that this idea is good in theory with good intentions but believes that college affordability is such a big and systematic issue that is going to be difficult to address.
“Seton Hall needs to be honest, are they giving back to their students the quality they deserve based on the tuition they charge?,” Gonzalez said. “Absolutely not.”
Jackson believes this initiative can get done and be really successful if the students are ready for the long haul because it will not be an overnight success.
Elizabeth Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.