I learned to be a fighter from my mother. I’ve spent the majority of my life watching my mother overcome an abusive marriage and work two jobs to provide for me, while simultaneously raising me to be the woman I am today. Being an only child, things got really lonely at my house. I remember waiting and waiting for my mother to get home around 7 p.m. so that we could sit at the dining room table together, and do our homework while talking about our day. Despite all the obstacles placed in my mother’s path, she continued to educate herself and is now working on her administration certificate to become a principal. My mother and I bonded over academia, and she taught me just how important and beneficial an education truly is. School comes first. It always has, and it always will.
I believe that the most important experience we will have here at the capstone is our academic experience. Before we are members of any organization, we are first and foremost students of The University of Alabama who are striving to obtain a degree and one day a career. I believe that the Vice President of Academic Affairs is a position far more important than what people on this campus give it credit for.
I’ve had two years of SGA experience, am a member of Lambda Sigma, volunteer with READ Alabama, am serving as a member on the Student Veterans Strategic Council and Crisis Text Line Committee and have publicly left a coercive system, but there is so much more to be done, and there is so much more I can do for my constituents. I encourage you to focus not on my past involvement or decisions, but on what I can do for you in the future.
My platform is one for the students, and I am proud to say that each and every initiative you hear me speak about or promote is one that was inspired by a student here at the university. These are solutions to real issues students face. I plan to implement Student Opinions of Instruction (SOI) halfway through the semester to increase communication between professors and students. Completing a SOI at the end of the semester does nothing for the students who are currently in the class because at that point it’s too late for professors to implement changes in the classroom. I also want to create a campus wide textbook swap. This would be an easy and fun way for students to interact with one another, while saving some cash.
Establishing a cultural diversity class like the one proposed by Faculty Senate is also important to me. I believe we need to educate one another, and create a more empathetic campus. Working to make advising more efficient is another huge, and important issue to students across campus. Encouraging libraries such as Gorgas and Bruno to stay open later on Friday nights and launching an academic resource hub online called “My Path,” would provide more resources and academic opportunities for students.
A key issue on my platform is ensuring on campus veterans and dependents receive priority registration. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with several on campus veterans who are in dire need of priority registration for classes not just because they have served our country, but because they cannot receive their benefits until an extensive amount of paperwork has been approved. These veterans are not traditional students, many have families they have to provide for and when this paperwork is not approved in time, these students are forced to take out quick loans in order to pay for their rent and other basic living expenses.
As I give my speeches across campus, I’ve come to realize it’s not just about representing student but also about being a student. It’s about identifying with individuals on a personal level, and empathizing with the struggles they face regarding academics and in other areas. I’m running for Student Government Association because that first word means the world to me. I hope that I’ll have your vote on March 1st, and that you allow me to help you with your most important experience here at the Capstone.
Alex Smith is a sophomore majoring in political science. She is running for Vice President of Academic Affairs.