VCU SGA, Pres. Rao host roundtable to open communications with student body

Photo by Casey Cole.
Photo by Casey Cole.

VCU’s Student Government Association resurrected the SGA roundtable on Sept. 22 for the first time since 2007.   

SGA President Destinee’ Moragne said the reason for bringing back the roundtable is because, “face to face communication is better than constantly sending out emails or talking on social media.”

Moragne said this is a more beneficial way of communicating with VCU President Michael Rao.

“It shows students that our president is an awesome human being and they can ask him questions,” Moragne said.

According to Moragne, SGA’s slogan, “empowering the students’ voice” means their main job is to hear student concerns and voice them to administration so that actual change can occur on campus.

The purpose of the roundtable is to open up a new method of communication between the student body and VCU’s administration. The discussion began with a Q&A between Rao and student representatives of organizations.

Rao opened with his vision of strategic planning and how it will come into effect in the five year plan. He broke this into three main sections including: community engagement, research, and an upgraded medical system.

To prove it’s commitment to community engagement, the SGA has put forward an incentive, “Ramcentive,” in which 26 student organizations will be eligible for an extra $300 in funding if they partake in at least 16 hours of community service.

Ramcentive is expected to offer nearly eight-thousand dollars to student organizations.

In addition, Rao expressed his commitment to first-generation students. According to him, VCU does not want to increase tuition or tighten admission requirements especially for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend college.

“If you look at the university it’s a place with buildings and a library, but the most important part of the university is the human development,” Rao said. “That’s what makes a university a university.”

VCU aims to advance their research in addiction and cancer, involving fields of medicine and social work. In order to progress with the research department, VCU’s medical systems will also need to continue to strengthen.

In a given year, 600,000 patients are treated at the VCU Medical Center a year. Because of that, VCU is dedicated to making the medical system as comfortable and easy to navigate as possible.

Rao also commended the School of Business.

“One thing the school of business has done, with my full encouragement, is developing a strategic plan surrounding creativity which leads to innovation,” Rao said.

Alicia Thompson, a representative of the Association of Black Social Workers, said she believed the roundtable was helpful.

“It adds the avenues to where we continue to advocate and how we can plug our students into our VCU community because that’s important to us as social workers,” Thompson said.

Rao introduced a vision of merging schools and majors. For example, he suggested that instead of having more than 100 programs of study to choose from, there will be subdivisions like creativity or innovation.

“I came in with an open mind, not knowing what to expect,” said Jasmine Williams, a representative of Zeta Phi Beta Incorporated. “I want to get direct questions from our organization to bring to President Rao and the VCU administration.”

SGA will hold more roundtables in the future and encourage students to be as involved as they can in voicing their opinions, concerns and visions directly to the university’s administration.

Emma Gauthier Contributing Writer

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