By Jamie Bouldin, Assistant Director for Leadership and Service
Members of SFA’s Student Government Association (SGA) recently joined a group of University and community representatives for Nacogdoches/SFA Days in Austin, an event that focuses on bringing Nacogdoches and Stephen F. Austin State University to the attention of state legislators and policy-makers.
Eight members of SGA, including Student Government President Andy Teel and Student Government Vice President Sarah Feye, joined the local group and were able to meet many members of Texas’ government, including Gov. Rick Perry.
“Several of us got to visit with Gov. Perry in his office for about 20 minutes as he discussed his goals for higher education with us,” Teel said. “This is a very educational experience in which the SFA students attended legislative briefings with our elected officials, interacted with local business owners, and participated in efforts to advocate for legislation and policies that benefit SFA. This year while our students were there, they developed a legislative agenda to give to senators and representatives from their hometown district offices and talked with elected officials about the goals of our university. Our students also attended a session with Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Wayne Christian as they gave an update on issues within their legislative districts.”
Dr. Adam Peck, dean of students, serves as SGA’s adviser and also took part in the trip.
“SFA Day serves two very important purposes,” Peck said. “It is a valuable learning experience for our students regarding the legislative process, but it also exposes lawmakers to our students and lets them tell their stories that illustrate the importance of their support for our students and higher education in general.”
“It was a great opportunity to represent SFA,” said Feye, a junior from The Woodlands. “We weren’t only representing the students, we were representing the entire University.”
The students were also able to attend a briefing on higher education, giving them insight into many issues that effect their own constituents.
“We got to hear about a lot of changes that are coming because of statewide budget cuts,” Feye said. “This kind of thing directly affects students.”
Opportunities like these do not come along often for SFA students, Teel said.
“It is amazing when we are able to attend events like these,” he said. “I believe that it not only benefits you by networking, but educating yourself on the process of how government and legislation works.”
The student representatives were also able to network with local business owners, Nacogdoches city officials, SFA administrators and representatives from the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, who also attended SFA Days.
While visiting state officials’ offices, the SGA students handed out The SFA Way lapel pins. The SFA Way (http://www.sfasu.edu/4742.asp) serves as the university’s honor code and provides principles to which students, faculty and staff hold each other accountable.