As the end of another academic year draws near, the student government has begun welcoming newly elected senators and looking ahead to next year. Last Friday, outgoing Student Body President Maggie Guzman delivered her State of the University Address, an annual tradition since the office was created in 2005.
In her speech, Guzman said change is not easy and stressed that the restructuring process is completely necessary. She said steps have already been made towards changing USM for the better. For instance, the Financial Aid Office has hired two new staff members in order to improve communications between the office and students receiving aid.
Guzman at times spoke directly to the newly elected senators in her speech and encouraged them to take an active role in the restructuring. “These are going to be turbulent times. [Students] are going to turn to you as a student leader,” she said.
Newly-elected Student Body President Ashley Willems-Phaneuf ran for the position after only one year on the senate because she worked so closely with former President Maggie Guzman. “Maggie and Molly encouraged me all the way, going to senate was like getting together with friends,” said Willems-Pahneuf. Guzman said she was confident in passing the torch to Willems-Pahneuf.
Chris O’Connor, Dean Of Student Life, encouraged all students to get involved. “You have the means to go where you want in senate, but I challenge you to learn from the past student leaders. Pick their brains,” he said.
Two former student body presidents came to the speech. “It’s tough to change but if you look at the long term, it will give USM more solid footing,” said A.J Chalifour, student body president from 2007 to 2008.
Andy Bossie, student body president from 2006 to 2007, said even during his candidacy, “there was a feeling that a lot needed to be changed and change was on the horizon.”
“The responsibility of the student leaders is to go out and educate and get people to think about the issues,” he said.