Emory Student Government Has Yet To Catch Up to the Digital Age

The webpage that greets a user once they click ‘I want to find my representative,’ on the current Emory SGA website./Courtesy of Emory SGA

Emory’s Student Government Association website is, in its own words, an embarrassment.

There is no way to view active representatives. Those seeking to get involved on campus are greeted with a page that has not been updated since 2014. Concerned constituents can report their problems to John Darby — who has not been the SGA president for four years. For a body tasked with addressing the issues of Emory students, SGA’s website is an abject failure; it’s not unreasonable to expect that SGA either update its website or improve its OrgSync.

The former SGA administration under Gurbani Singh (18B) failed to update the website, despite the November 2017 creation of the Communications Committee, which promised to better facilitate the transmission of information to the public. Last semester, several SGA candidates mentioned updating the website during their campaigns. In interviews with the Wheel, both SGA President Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) and SGA Executive Vice President John Priddy (19C) promised prompt updates to the government’s digital presence and transparency. More than half a year into their tenure, the pair has failed to produce results thus far. While SGA has uploaded an updated version of the Constitution to its OrgSync page, this improvement is the bare minimum — especially considering that OrgSync is rarely used. SGA can go a step further by sending out periodic announcements like College Council did last year or live streaming their weekly sessions.

SGA’s lackluster efforts to properly update its website limits interaction with a student body that is already uninterested in participating in student government. At a time when people are increasingly receiving their information online, SGA should be expected to maintain a website that is both engaging and consistently updated. Without an accessible website, students have one less avenue to voice concerns or contact their representatives. SGA leaders cannot expect to receive consistent input if there is no central platform for students to give it.

And while SGA occasionally uses its Facebook page to update students, the page has a mere 1,400 followers — a fraction of Emory’s more than 7,000 undergraduate students. Because Facebook reaches such a small percentage of the student body, the organization should emphasize relaying important information on other platforms like OrgSync, the undergraduate listserv or their website, which should be accessible to more people.

The modifications could also include the regular uploading of meeting minutes. Should SGA elect to switch to OrgSync completely, they must delete their outdated website to clarify online communication with the student body.

Fortunately, SGA’s transparency problem has quick and easy solutions. SGA can either update its website or include more information, such as how to contact representatives, on their OrgSync profile. And they should have the capacity to do so, especially since the vice president of communications has proposed creating a new communications officer position. Until significant changes are made, students cannot easily find who their representatives are and cannot hold SGA accountable.

The Editorial Board is composed of Zach Ball, Jacob Busch, Ryan Fan, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Omar Obregon-Cuebas, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois, Madison Stephens and Kimia Tabatabaei. Kimia Tabatabaei is a freshman legislator on College Council and recused herself from this piece.

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