The Freshman 15 hit me a bit harder than it did most students – and much sooner. I came into this university with a plan; I was going to join a fraternity, play competitive soccer and get involved with SGA. But I didn’t find a house that felt like home (until sophomore year), and an injury early on kept me from playing the sport that I love more than recreationally. I became depressed, gained a ton of weight and barely ever left my room. The times I did leave, though, were for class and SGA meetings. I met friends in First Year Council that I’ve kept through college, who helped me back on my feet and gave me the confidence I needed to turn my college career around. SGA became more than an extracurricular activity – it became my passion.
But that’s not what SGA is about. I learned that during my first senate campaign, after delivering a speech at the Mallet Assembly about how great it felt to serve, when a student overdosed upstairs. Every candidate for office was giving lip service to our campus “issues” and not one of us had said a word about how to help our most vulnerable students. It was at that moment that I realized what SGA was: a club for mostly Machine-backed students to build their resumes and feel good about themselves.
But it was also in that moment that I realized what SGA could be. It was then that I started writing legislation to combat campus hunger. It was then that I reached out to groups on campus to discuss drug amnesty policy and then that I recognized the destructiveness of the Machine only giving one demographic a seat at the table. I decided that day that we can do better than a government that only serves the government.
I am running to be your SGA president because I know what SGA is capable of. SGA can endow an LGBTQA+ emergency fund for students who are disowned after coming out to their parents. SGA can feed the 250 poorest students on campus without taking their dignity. SGA can reach out to international students and minority communities and actually get them involved in the process, rather than just asking for their opinions for show and acting on none of their recommendations. SGA can do much more than raise awareness to prevent campus sexual assault. I have the most extensive platform of any candidate in this race – with goals small to large – because I know students at this university deserve more than they’ve been getting.
If not for my experience with SGA freshman year, I could have been the student overdosing upstairs during candidate speeches. I could have allowed my loneliness to consume me and turned to destructive habits that left me behind. I’m asking for your vote on March 1st because I know that SGA can be for you what it is for me. I can’t promise to reach every student or solve every problem; making progress on this campus is a permanent uphill battle. But I can promise beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will work harder than anyone else to do both of those things. I can promise that I’ll address what matters to you, be it hearing Dixieland Delight or feeling safe on campus at night. And I promise, to quote an old man named Mike I met at a political rally last year: if you trust me with your vote and your support, “the forgotten ain’t gon be forgotten no more.”
Patrick Fitzgerald is a junior majoring in international marketing. He is running for president of the Student Government Association.