In wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Seton Hall’s Student Government Association (SGA) has partnered with the New Jersey Student Government Coalition which aims to provide resources for students affected by the pandemic.
The coalition was started by The College of New Jersey’s (TCNJ) student government, according to freshman diplomacy and international relations major Chase Cohen. She said this coalition will allow student leaders to learn from each other and share ideas.
“This is a really stressful time and unfortunately there is no guidebook detailing what to do during a pandemic,” Cohen said. “Being a part of this coalition allows us to bounce ideas off of other SGAs and see if they have tried anything like them and receive advice.”
Furthermore, Cohen said that Seton Hall’s student leaders hope to build lasting relationships with other student governments.
“We were all brought together by covid-19 because we are trying to do what is best for our students during this stressful time, but we still have a lot to learn from each other even when this is all over,” Cohen said.
Seton Hall has been a member of this coalition for about a month, according to sophomore economics and diplomacy and international relations major and SGA President Julia Nicolls.
“We hope that we can continue positive relations with other leaders and potentially having a conference to continue to learn from one another,” Nicolls said. “This is all in the beginning phases so there is a lot of potential that we are all excited to explore.”
When the outbreak occurred resulting in a two-week period of online classes following spring break, TCNJ’s student government decided to post informational resources online during those initial two weeks, according to TCNJ’s Student Government Executive Vice President Suchir Govindarajan.
“We knew that things were getting more and more chaotic by the day and that students may not necessarily be aware of their options, so we wanted to provide a centralized location for that kind of information,” Govindarajan said.
As the outbreak escalated, Govindarajan said TCNJ’s student government contacted other student governments in New Jersey with the hope that a broader collective effort could serve a larger population.
“We proposed the idea of amassing contacts, websites, and resources from each county, and placing them in a centralized location for all NJ students,” Govindarajan said. “Soon, we were joined by 14 additional institutions.”
Presently, the coalition’s ongoing project consists of compiling a comprehensive list of contacts and resources pertaining to food and housing insecurity, unemployment, Title IX, interpersonal and domestic violence, healthcare, internet and technology access and mental health.
Govindarajan said the resources intend to be categorized by county and aim to provide a centralized, reliable source of information.
“By providing this research list, we hope to better inform students of their options, so they can focus on utilizing them,” Govindarajan said.
As their collection of information develops, the coalition’s social media team has posted hotline numbers and health guidelines on the group’s Instagram profile @njsgcoalition. Govindarajan said that the coalition intends to expand and over the next few weeks, it will post updates and informational resources on Instagram.
Said Govindarajan, “The NJ [Student Government] Coalition aims to utilize our dedicated members to truly enhance the impact of the student voice, and now, more than ever, it's important that we do our jobs as student advocates.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.