Swinging Bridge Magazine: March 2021

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very spring, many of Messiah’s clubs seek new student leadership for the coming school year. These clubs have had to embrace many changes in their routine programming and their upcoming recruiting of new student leaders this past year. For the Student Government Association (SGA), one of these new changes was holding meetings over Zoom every other week to limit exposure. Though there was a 10% decrease in allowed room capacity per Pennsylvania’s governor orders, the Senate and the Executive Cabinet have been able to meet in larger rooms for smaller time frames this semester, allowing them to be together in person. When it comes to adapting to the on-campus COVID-19 restrictions, SGA Student Body President America Cervantes feels more confident moving forward after experiencing the fall semester. “The key thing is planning ahead and when we already have those plans, we can just take a step back when something happens and restructure that plan to then keep working from there,” Cervantes said. This semester, however, SGA has had the additional challenge of holding the Student Body President and Vice President elections in early March. Pivoting around COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions, Cervantes and her team had to enact certain changes that still allow for students to participate and get involved. According to Cervantes, the debate, a normal part of the election process, transitioned onto Zoom, rather than in person. Typically, interested pairs of students would also need to get 200 signatures each - both for the President and Vice President - in order to run.

This year, to help aid the process and encourage participation, the pair will only need 200 signatures total.

“It's always been a little difficult to recruit people to run for presidency." “I think it’s always been a little difficult to recruit people to run for presidency,” Cervantes said. “This semester, we’ve had more of a social media presence than in previous years, so I’m hoping that it’s for our advantage.” Joining a club can provide students with new experiences and make their time at Messiah more memorable. It is a great way to gain leadership skills, influence change and support the community here at Messiah. “I think no matter what you do, even if it’s your first year, getting involved is pretty important,” Vice President of Organizations Yabets Assefa said. For students interested in getting involved in student government, running for office is not the only way they can support the campus in impactful ways. Cervantes suggests that students interested in getting involved with SGA apply to be senators. “It’s a good entry-way if you’re unsure. And the commitment’s a lot less as well. But you definitely get a lot of experience with the student body and administration,” Cervantes said. “You can also be a student diplomat, which represents the student body in different councils here at the university.”


These roles are a great way for anyone who wants to get involved in specific areas they care about and desires to create change at the university. Beyond the SGA, there are over 70 clubs on campus, with leadership opportunities available for every interest. Affesa’s primary role involves supporting and managing Messiah’s clubs in their programming, something that is especially relevant now. For example, this semester has looked different regarding how activities like club events are planned. “We’ve integrated an events approval process. We didn’t previously have this, usually clubs tend to host their own events and didn’t really need approval,” Assefa said. “This semester, we wanted to make sure we were following the CDC guidelines, the government’s guidelines, as well as the University’s guidelines in hosting and having events.” Despite the difficulties, Assefa has seen student leaders adapt well, and encourages others to aspire to do the same. “Our club’s leaders have taken up the role and kind of stepped up to the position that they’re in now,” Assefa said. “There are a lot of restrictions, but we’re still going to choose to operate. I think that’s been amazing to see in all the leaders I’ve seen on campus.” With these challenges, Messiah’s student leaders have created new ways to keep their clubs growing and thriving. For Assefa, these kinds of obstacles help create strong leaders. However, he maintains that leaders are molded and created. Sometimes, a person does not know their capabilities until they enter a situation that requires tenacity and resilience. “One of the things I thought to myself was ‘I don’t think I’m good enough to be in a leadership position,’ but that’s not true,” Assefa said. For those looking to expand their horizons on campus, check out Messiah’s website for listings of current clubs. For further questions about clubs and activities or to find out how to get involved in student government, contact

SGA at sga@messiah.edu. THE SWINGING BRIDGE


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