Until 5:00 p.m. on September 7th, Student Services, a branch of UT's Student Government Association (SGA), will be accepting applications for seven different committees: Academic Affairs, Diversity Affairs, Environment and Sustainability, Government Affairs, Technology Services, Traditions, and Volunteer Life.
Students tend to scoff at the efforts of the SGA, as evidenced by last year's election. FUEL won with Adam Roddy, current SGA president, receiving just over 8 percent of student support. Cassandra Marin, senior in microbiology, does not think SGA has accomplished much in years past and is skeptical of the promises made by student government bodies.
"Actions speak louder than words," Marin said.
The current Student Services Director, Taelor Olive, hopes to change the minds of those skeptic about SGA's relevancy, pointing to actions that have originated from UT's student government.
Anyone who attends summer school has the Government Affairs committee to thank for now being able to apply the HOPE scholarship to those classes. Olive described the committee as a liaison between UT's campus and the state government. The committee takes an annual trip to Nashville to meet with representatives and to represent issues related to UT.
"In the past they assisted with having a letter-writing campaign that advocated for having money during the summer... using your HOPE scholarship during the summer," Olive said. "We all know now that actually went through."
The other committees are just as active: Technology Services is working in conjunction with other bodies on a UT app, and Volunteer Life has been busy organizing activities to welcome new students.
Despite all these things, Olive does admit weaknesses exist in student government in past years, as well as student apathy. However, she says she noticed more students voicing concerns when she ran for office last spring and that Student Services is focused on advocating for issues along with sponsoring events now.
With changes in the program come changes in the application process. An interview stage has been added to get the people that are truly interested and less people that are trying to get a resume booster. Olive is looking for people that have a really strong passion for the university, a strong passion for change, have really great ideas and are creative. Dedication ranks highly on her list of qualifying traits as well.
"I really want people to get involved and do their part with the committees," Olive said. "I want to come up with new ideas and make this the best year ever for Student Services."
Traditionally, Student Services receives about 200 applications for their seven committees. Once accepted, members meet every other week on Tuesdays or Sundays, depending on the committee.