My name is Jonathan Hess and I am running for Vice President of External Affairs. My job in the SGA is to look outward, to connect our campus with Mayor Walt Maddox, the City of Tuscaloosa and the State of Alabama. I am honored to run and excited for what we can accomplish next year. We live in a connected world, and the only way to make lasting progress on this campus is through networking with our surroundings.
I am from Tuscaloosa – my family moved here two days before Christmas when I was eight years old. Growing up here, I have had the opportunity to learn how Tuscaloosa works and to understand the University’s close ties to its home city. I know Mayor Maddox and I feel that personal connections, while not everything, will help me accomplish more for us all as students.
I know the SGA and this university well – this past year, I had the honor of representing the business school as a senator. I was also able to gain valuable experience and knowledge while working as a Culverhouse Ambassador. As a freshman, I served as President of First Year Council. In my time at the University, I have gained the tools I need for experienced leadership.
But what exactly will I do for you? I have a plan that focuses on the students and the community and ties them both together. Externally, the University needs safe rides home more than anything else. I have seen too many students behind the wheel after too many drinks, and I know many of you have seen them as well. I want to work with the city to rewrite the regulations that have kept Uber and other ride-sharing services out of Tuscaloosa, and help students get home safely using only their smartphones.
We need better lighting. Particularly near the Aquatic Center and Meador Drive, but truly all across campus, students walk home in the dark. I have already opened conversations with city officials and contractors about providing new streetlights. We need improved roads as well. Traffic is horrible near campus. Although we cannot change our roads in one year, we can make a concrete plan that guides our city and our campus for years to come.
I want to add a section to the Alabama app: a train schedule. Students should know when the train is coming, so that we will no longer be 10 minutes late for class.
We need to give back to the Tuscaloosa community that supports us. I have already begun work on a food donation initiative that takes extra food from all University kitchens, which would be thrown away regardless and brings them to soup kitchens, nursing homes and those that need a good meal the most.
More importantly than any one initiative, we as students should always be reminded of our connections to Tuscaloosa and to the State of Alabama. We need to tie the University and the community together. As your future Vice President of External Affairs, I cannot advocate for anything more.
Jonathan Hess is running for the position of Vice President for External Affairs. He is running unopposed.