Jared Hunter speaks on his presidential plans


Caroline Japal

Student Government Association President Jared Hunter

Bennett Stansell

Q: What initiative will you work on first as president, and what will you do to ensure it is accomplished during your term?

A: I think one initiative that I know I want to start working on from the beginning is rectifying the free stadium cup refill idea. I want to start meeting with athletics, with financial affairs, meeting with Dr. [David] Grady, [Vice President for Student Affairs], whoever I need to sit down and have a discussion with to get the ball rolling. We’re going to go ahead and get the foundation for that platform point so that when fall and football season come around, there won’t be too much else to do to put it into effect.”

Q: What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge?

A: I think it’s going to be more so on the personal side. I have thick skin, but I do have a tendency to get bogged down and saddened by the online comments or opinions pieces that talk about me and my goals in a negative way that is not representative or fair to me. One of my biggest obstacles will be ensuring that I’m focusing on following through with the promises I made to students, and not getting distracted by the negative side of campus politics.

Q: Increasing diversity has been an important topic of discussion at The University of Alabama over the past few years. How will you specifically work to foster diversity and inclusion?

A: I want to have consistent meetings with the new chief diversity officer. Luckily, the University is finally narrowing its search and they have four qualified applicants that they are looking at. I want to have a consistent stream of communication with whoever they select. I also think it’s important to attend events that are culturally based. It will be important for me as president to attend, support and advertise the programs that the Intercultural Diversity Center sponsors. To foster diversity and inclusion, I need to be there to advertise it and celebrate it at every turn.

Q: What will you do to represent the interests of minority students?

A: In representing students from a minority background, it will be important for me to familiarize myself with what they are involved and interested in. Ultimately, working with them to hear their concerns will be the key. Just earlier I spoke with a student who had concerns about students who are from poor or disadvantaged homes getting involved in opportunities on campus, whether it’s getting into an honor society or involved with SGA. Having discussion like that will be the initial step I need to take in order to ensure that I’m representing students from every minority on campus.

Q: Do you plan on keeping President Roth’s presidents’ council in place, or do you want to replace it?

A: I plan on keeping it. I think it was one of her strongest platform points last year for her administration. I’d like to improve it by having more consistent meetings at a time when as many people can be there as possible. I’d like to expand the council to bring more voices to the table.

Q: Many of your critics have attacked your platform for not including a specific strategy for combating mental health problems on campus. What measures will you take as president to help increase awareness about mental health, end the stigma associated with it and help make mental health services more available?

A: I’m glad you asked because I feel like that somehow got contorted with my campaign. I’ve already begun working with people from the Alabama Pan-Hellenic Association, the Inter-Fraternal Council, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council to begin fundraising to establish a trust fund for the Counseling Center. Right now we’re looking at donations of up to around $55,000-$60,000 that we’ll be able to present the Counseling Center in the Fall. It will be a continual thing that we will do at UA to help bolster the Counseling Center. All of these discussions about mental health only go so far if our main mental health provider is lacking in resources. My personal goal is to, at the fund’s ten-year anniversary, to have at least one million dollars raised by students for students to the Counseling Center.

Q: How will you promote transparency in the Student Government Association?

A: One big thing that I want to start doing is utilizing Facebook live to do a once-a-week broadcast to show students what SGA is working on. Nothing big or formal. Just me talking to the student body updating them on anything I or the SGA is up to, even if it’s something really small. I think Snapchat was also a really big, unique aspect of my campaign and it’d be really cool to have a Snapchat for the president, so I can go around giving students a peek into SGA meetings or my other daily tasks to help bridge the gap between how much students see in their elected officials and what we actually do in the Ferg, working away at legislation that will help students.

Q: One of your campaign points was your idea to create a task force to secure fair off-campus housing options for students. Could you elaborate on that idea?

A: That’s one of my favorite points to talk about, because it will absolutely impact all students. As the University is growing larger, there is very little space to live on campus. Knowing this, some of the off-campus housing offices have crafted leases containing unfair stipulations and clauses, capitalizing on the fact that we’re 18 or 19 and need a place to live. I’d like to create a task force, composed of pre-law students, that would work with people from Housing and Residential Communities and administrators from external affairs to begin alleviating policies put in place by housing offices that unfairly target students. I want this body to represent students living everywhere, whether it’s The Retreat or behind Publix.

Q: One of your most discussed campaign platform points was the expansion of Dining Dollars to include more locations. Could you tell me what locations you want to target?

A: We don’t have a concrete list, but my personal hopes are Insomnia Cookies and Jimmy John’s. By adding these restaurants, we would expand the nutritional options available to students by adding a healthier option in Jimmy John’s and a dessert option in Insomnia. Insomnia is a new business and they could benefit from expanding to Dining Dollars. Jimmy John’s is wildly popular with students so they would benefit from being included as well. I also want to talk about a new app I’ve been testing called Tapingo that I’m really excited about. It’s a way for students to order food online or with their phones. Tapingo is something I’ve been working on with Bama Dining since last December. I’m not sure when the time period is when the actual app will be introduced to campus, but it will give students an expedited way to order food on and around campus.

Q: Student voter participation is typically low in SGA elections. Why do you think that is the case, and what steps will you take to increase student involvement in SGA?

A: Putting the action back in SGA is something I want to place emphasis on. I’ve seen how hard SGA works, but I also notice on the flip side that it might not directly translate to the everyday lives of each student. I would love to see all students get involved. Whether they think that SGA is working diligently to promote their best interest, or if they think SGA needs a complete overhaul, I want students to be a part of the conversation. At the end of the day, I know that SGA isn’t perfect or for everyone, but hopefully I can make students believe in the importance of SGA by attending meetings, working to represent minorities on campus and following through on my campaign promises. If I do that, I can organically change the way students view SGA and then we will see numbers rise come election time next year.

Q: How will you build a positive relationship with SGA senate to ensure the smooth passage of legislation?

A: I think that senate is absolutely instrumental in making sure that SGA as a whole runs the way it should be, effectively and efficiently for all students. Therefore, having a strong relationship with senate will be in my best interest and I plan on making that happen. I’ve talked about sitting down with senators one-on-one outside of senate, maybe at least once a month, to look over legislation, pinpoint areas of senate that need improvement, and talk about what SGA needs to do to pass resolutions that will meet the needs of students. I’ll also encourage senators to attend Presidents’ Council meetings so that they are actively engaged and can hear first-hand what student organizations are focusing on.

Q: When your time as president is over, what kind of legacy do you want to have left behind?

A: I want people to say that their SGA serves students. I want SGA to be regarded as an efficient, effective and impact organization on campus, one that works hard to represent all students. Once I’m an alum, I would love for students to be able to list specific things that my administration was able to accomplish and follow through on. As long as students can say that SGA and my administration did something to positively impact their lives, then I would say that I had a successful tenure as president.