By HALEY DICK
Gull Life Editor
Current Speaker of Senate Devin Neil was announced as the new president of the Student Government Association (SGA) for the 2018-2019 academic school year earlier this morning.
Neil has been a member of SGA since his freshman year as an elected senator after attending an information session during freshman orientation. He ran unopposed in this year’s election to secure his new position in office.
“You learn a lot about networking, a lot about public speaking skills, teamwork skills, leadership, research, presentation, all of it,” Neil said. “I have my other organizations, but this one is sort of close to my heart because I am able to make a difference about something and am able to change it, but it’s also like you get really close to the people you work with.”
Neil was originally planning to run for vice president because he wanted to “climb the ladder” before possibly becoming president, but decided to take the plunge nonetheless.
“I think I can make a tremendous amount of change,” Neil said. “There is going to be some obstacles, but I think we have a tremendous opportunity with the new administration coming in and with Dr. Wight.”
Neil’s campaign approach focused on going around campus and talking to students to get to know them in an individual way. He feels that one-on-one interactions are an effective way to make connections with people and uncover student concerns.
Neil mentioned an obvious disconnect between the faculty, administration, students and other campus members, and feels there needs to be a more effective way to bring everyone together.
“There is something wrong with the system right now and we need to change that in order to better our community and be more efficient so we can get things done that benefit everyone and not just one group,” Neil said. “We are not going to be a community if we don’t work together, and part of that is having shared governance where we all have an equal say.”
SGA is currently in the process of pushing for changes to be made to the university’s counseling center to better meet the needs of the student body. Neil feels this is a critical initiative for SGA to continue pursuing.
“Personally, since it involves not just the administration of Salisbury, but the University System of Maryland, which involves the legislature and appropriations committee, that’s something I’ve really been working on because I think it’s a very necessary thing for students and its very important and needs to be done quickly,” Neil said.
Diversity and inclusion has been a longstanding focus for SGA, with an executive board even including a position titled the director and diversity and inclusion. While there is a designated officer to primarily focus on this issue, the entire board plays a role in supporting the initiatives.
“Its making sure that every decision that we make we do need to include these different groups and facets on campus and that’s where before making a decision, make sure that when you are doing a survey or a poll or getting student feedback that you have an accurate depiction of campus and making sure that if we are making a decision how is this going to affect different populations of the student body,” Neil said during the student government debate on April 8.
Neil mentioned plans for SGA to host less events and push for more policies, but emphasized the importance of hosting events to get the community together.
“Events are still important,” Neil said. “They are a backbone in a sense to push initiatives.”
Neil is a brother of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, as well as a member of the garden club, a university host and an orientation leader. He is currently inactive, but was previously a member of the club sailing team.
“I would like to see campus more unified than it is now and bring campus together,” Neil said. “I came to Salisbury because it was an outstanding community, and the community aspect is something I want to keep and nurture.”
Featured image of Devin Neil from SU SGA.