Representatives from Georgia Southern’s Student Government Association met with the Statesboro interim city manager Chris Addleton last week to discuss possible ways to improve lines of communication between university students and city council members.
SGA president Jon Simpson said they were simply following up on a letter sent to the council and mayor a few weeks ago, expressing an interest to meet and discuss the current non-communication between the two groups. When there was no official response from the city, they decided to seek out the city manager and try to get on the council agenda.
So, Simpson and SGA representatives will speak at the next city council meeting – 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.
Addleton said the impression he got was that the GSU student representatives simply want to work more closely with the city.
“I wanted to give them the opportunity to talk to the city council directly,” said Addleton. “(A city council meeting) is the forum to do it in.”
Simpson said he hopes to have a large turnout of students and others interested in improving communication between the campus and city.
“Hopefully, we can bring students out to the meeting, along with anyone else who’s interested in opening the lines of communication,” said Simpson. “I hope lots of people show their interest.”
Simpson and other SGA representatives have come up with three recommendations they plan to present at the next city council meeting.
First, they propose to put a non-voting member on the city council. The person either would be elected by the student body or appointed by SGA to serve a two-year term on the council and serve as the voice of the students in city council meetings. The two-year term would alleviate turnover issues and strengthen the trust between city leaders and the student representative, according to the proposal.
Second, hold luncheons between GSU students, faculty and staff and Statesboro’s leadership, no less than twice a year. These luncheons would serve to inform each group of the issues and concerns that might affect the relationship between campus and community.
Third, SGA would recommend that at least one city council meeting per year be held on campus – same time and day, just a different venue. According to Simpson, this would allow for a “larger audience to participate in the process of local government.” SGA would coordinate the efforts to set up and publicize the meeting – both on campus and in the community.
Ultimately, said Simpson, these are just recommendations to the city designed to start the discussion process.
”We want to include the city in these ideas,” said Simpson. “We’d like to sit down and come up with something we can all agree on.”