New Student Government President, Vice President Set Sights on Unity
May 12, 2016
New UT Dallas Student Government president Akshitha Padigela has a ready answer whenever her peers question whether students can effect change in their short time on a campus.
“We’re going to prove them wrong,” said Padigela, an accounting and finance junior in the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
Padigela and vice president Joey Campain, a biochemistry freshman in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, were elected at the end of March on the United as One ticket. Despite a 7 percent voter turnout for a contested Student Government election, Padigela and Campain are undeterred in what they can accomplish.
“Our goal is to unite everyone on campus and get organizations to work with each other and with us,” Padigela said. “We want to focus on getting people to know about us and what Student Government can do.”
Campain said they will begin by listening to student needs. The two plan to set aside a lunch period each week to meet with leaders of student organizations and talk about the issues each group would like to see addressed.
“Everyone has an agenda they’d like to see accomplished,” Campain said. “You have to have that open line of communication and get to know what students want.”
Padigela and Campain are confident they will have strong student support for their initiatives. They have gathered a network of friends who are experienced in the workings of Student Government, including several students who have already been president or vice president and have agreed to serve as senators next year.
The transition to leadership has been easy, Padigela and Campain said, thanks to the support given by immediate past president Caitlynn Fortner and vice president Grant Branam.
“Caitlynn and Grant have been great,” Padigela said. “We have an amazing ticket of student leaders who want to complete projects they think are important.”
Padigela and Campain have already come up with several initiatives centered on accessibility, sustainability, LGBT concerns and helping international students transition to campus life.
For example, they would like to see Student Government leaders trained to proctor a test to provide greater accessibility for students with challenging schedules or special needs. Some students with physical challenges may need extra time to complete a test or someone to read the exam questions aloud to them. Student Government leaders can help fill the gap, Padigela said.
They plan to communicate their accomplishments to the student body to help others understand the difference their involvement can make.
“The more you put in, the more you get out,” Padigela said. “I’ve fallen in love with this campus and want to do what I can to give back.”
Campain agreed, saying his involvement with Student Government has benefited him, too.
“Being here is the right place for me to be. I’ve made some of the best friends of my life here,” he said. “If you feel you belong, you’ll want to be as involved as you can be.”