By Caroline Morrison | Guest Columnist
What makes a place a home? Is it the comfort of a familiar face greeting you? Is it the place itself and the shelter it provides? Or is it more of a feeling – a feeling that you belong?
In my three years at the Capstone, I have experienced several different outlets to explore what a home is in Tuscaloosa. I have served as the external affairs chair for First Year Council, as a Senator for the business school, and as the executive treasurer for the Spillers Administration. Throughout my SGA experience, I have seen how this organization can improve the lives of students and really make the Capstone a home.
Oftentimes SGA can seem a world away, and candidates only appear during the one-week of campaigning, and disappear into their offices in the Ferguson Center. I want to work to change that and make my presidency one of open doors by working directly with students. To help accomplish this I want to create Student Empowerment Grants. Right now, SGA uses its full budget to fund the initiatives we create and then invites students to participate in them. However, I want to designate funding from the SGA Executive budget to ideas that students create and submit, putting the power of possibility back in the hands of students. If SGA is to truly meet students’ needs on campus, we have to be willing to throw our resources and funding behind students’ ideas. I will create a fund that students can apply for where SGA will provide resources and funding behind a student’s idea and turn it into a reality.
Another key thing I want to push forward as president is mental health reform on campus. Mental health is incredibly close to my heart. Mental illness affects 1 out of every 4 students, and 73 percent of college students experience a mental health crisis in their four years. This year in SGA, I served on the Mental Health Task Force, partnering with NAMI to promote SGA’s End The Stigma initiative. I will continue to work to ensure students have the best mental health resources possible. I will advocate for proper funding for the Counseling Center and promote the Crisis Text Line and other mobile resources not only as an emergency service, but also as an accessible 24-hour counseling service. I encourage students to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness by replacing the “I” in illness with a “We” in wellness. One way that I will promote this is through identifiable wristbands advocating for mental health that all students can join in wearing: we stand as one.
I am working to build a home at the Capstone by enriching our health with better sexual assault programs, mental health awareness, and handicap access on campus. I will work to increase our opportunity by breaking down the SGA “clique,” promoting diversity and inclusion and implementing a SNAM forgiveness program. I will honor our memory by building a Capstone Memorial to pay respects to students who have passed away, and by respecting our veteran students service with priority registration. Then finally I want to empower students with Student Empowerment Grants, better food trucks and mobile charging stations on campus, more FAC funding and Need-Based Scholarships, and by implementing a ride sharing program to improve the safety of students. Better health, opportunity, memory and empowerment will help unite the Capstone together.
I am running as an independent because I want to represent the needs of all students, not necessarily one group or institution. I want to work with students from all corners of campus; greek and Non-greek, all different races, orientations, classifications and any other possible identifiers. I want to run not for you, but with you. I will make the Capstone a Home for all.
Caroline Morrison is a junior majoring in economics. She is running for president of the Student Government Association.