SGA president-elect shares goals for 2016-17 year

President-elect Sarah Green listens to a student ask questions about voting Feb. 23 outside of the Guillot University Center.

Move over, Pawnee: Leslie Knope has nothing on UNA’s Sarah Green.

“If you ask the people who were in Freshman Forum with me, they probably didn’t like me in Freshman Forum because I was the girl who always voted no to things that I didn’t think the students wanted,” said the Student Government Association president-elect. “Everybody would vote yes for everything, but I was like, ‘But have we asked the students about it?’”

Considering students’ opinions has always been a primary concern for Green, said Miss UNA and Green’s roommate Jocelyn Barnes.

“I think Sarah is extremely qualified and very passionate about this position,” she said. “Since I’ve met her, she’s always talked about wanting to be SGA president, and I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes work she’s put in. (She) and I have had major talks about how much she cares about the students. She says, ‘That’s why I want to be SGA president, because I want to make sure I’m representing them in everything that I do.’”

SGA President Nick Lang said in his experience with Green, she has proved her passion for the job.

“She has lots of experience to bring to the table. She was the chief of staff under (2014-15 President Kekoria Greer)’s administration when I was vice president and had a very productive year that year,” Lang said. “Being her assistant and being chief of staff, she got to see what worked and what didn’t work in that year. I think that helps her out. Sarah’s also level-headed. She’s able to look at things and how it impacts all students. I feel like that’s a very important quality to have as SGA president.”

Green first became a member of SGA in Freshman Forum in 2013, which she applied for during SOAR.

“I can remember (former President) Laura Giles speaking,” Green said. “She talked about Freshman Forum, and I knew that was something I wanted to do. Actually, while she was talking in her SOAR speech I was signing up for Freshman Forum.”

She moved from Freshman Forum to Senate in 2014.

“I was on the elections and recruitment committee for one meeting because we had one meeting for the spring semester going into the next year,” she said. “I got appointed chief of staff (for former President Kekoria Greer) over the summer.”

Green ran for SGA secretary for the 2015-16 school year, but she lost to Jensen Joiner by 13 votes.

“I can remember losing last year and thinking like, ‘This is the end of the world,’” Green said. “But at the same time, in the back of my head it was like there’s got to be something way bigger for me. I think losing is sometimes so humbling. That’s what you need. That’s definitely what I needed at the time, was to be humbled. I needed to be reminded of why I was in SGA.”

Green said she asked Vice President of Senate Nicole Gallups if she could take the legislative affairs chair, which Gallups granted.

“I really wanted to be legislative affairs chair because it always had been kind of a committee in SGA that wasn’t the best — nobody wanted to be on legislative affairs committee,” she said. “I was like, ‘Nuh-uh, we’re about to turn around this legislative affairs committee.’”

“‘It’s going to be the cool committee,’” Green said. “‘We’re going to get big things done on campus.’

“Our first committee meeting, as chair, we sat down and asked, ‘OK, who all wanted to actually be on legislative affairs?’ No one wanted to be on legislative affairs. I was like, ‘OK, that’s fine, that’s what I was expecting.’ But now I think if you were to ask my committee members — and it’s definitely not because of me — the people who are on legislative affairs actually care about the things that we’re doing.”

Lang said Green has done well as chair of the legislative affairs committee.

“She brought more people to Higher Ed Day than we have had the last two years,” he said. “We had (about) 30 and this year we had 49. She has had some really innovative ideas about potentially having a Higher Ed Day on campus later on this semester.”

Now, the incoming president has planned to get the ball rolling for next year.

“As president, my first move is to sit down with my chief of staff and start emailing (registered student organizations) setting up a date for the first president’s council meeting,” Green said.

Part of Green’s platform was to organize a council of representatives from each campus RSO, meeting once a month to discuss issues and campus involvement. She said she hopes to have at least one meeting before the end of the semester.

SGA has not been the only organization Green has dedicated her time to. She is currently a member of LaGrange Society, Phi Mu sorority and club swim team. She also works in the Office of Student Engagement as a Student Leadership Consultant.

When she is not working or engaging these RSOs, Green said she is an average college student, willing to engage others.

“I love a good joke, and peanut jokes are my favorite,” she said. “I also like to bowl. No one ever wants to go bowling with me, so if anyone wants to go bowling ever, I really would like that.”

Green also has a yorkie, Ladybug, who she walks around campus. If Green feels any stress, however, the only solution is off campus, Barnes said.

“I like to go to Wal-Mart really late at night by myself,” she said. “I really don’t get stressed out much, but if you see me in Wal-Mart at 11 or 12 o’clock by myself at night, I’m stressed out. I like going to the candle aisle and just smelling the candles. I know that’s really weird, but that’s my favorite thing to do.”

Those who pass the sorority residence halls may see Green in a window – or so they think.

“Last year when I was running for SGA secretary my hashtag was #SGandMe, so we brought around a cutout with us everywhere and she’s fist-bumping,” Green said. “She lives on the Phi Mu floor. People used to put her in peoples’ rooms to scare people because she’s pretty scary, to be honest.”

Barnes said she thought of the cutout idea to catch peoples eye.

“One time someone put her in the bathroom in the shower thinking they’d open the shower curtain and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, SG’s in here!’ But they didn’t look and they turned on the water and SG’s little legs are all curled up now. Her legs are cut off, and her arms flop around. And she’s folded so she sits. She was a good one. She’s still with us, she’s just a little broken.”

Barnes said the cutout is “a wonderful reminder” of how far Green has come.

After graduating from UNA with a degree in political science, Green hopes to attend law school at the University of Georgia — that is if they recognize her citizenship.

“I was born in the Marshall Islands on Kwajalein,” she said. “It’s a little tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I was applying to get a passport in my senior year of high school, they decided I wasn’t a U.S. citizen, (which) I am. They sent me all this paperwork back and the same thing happened when I applied for UNA.”

Despite being 6 years old when she moved to the continental United States, Green said this is a recurring issue whenever she tries to obtain a legal document.

“I was born to American parents and I was born on American soil, so it’s funny,” she said.

As funny as she feels the citizenship situation is, she is quick to focus on her primary goals as a citizen of Florence. As Green begins her term, she hopes to reach out to students more than ever before.

“A lot of times people think SGA is all senate,” she said. “UPC is a completely different side. They’re two completely different personalities, and I feel like most people would fit in somewhere. Give it a shot and go for it. The worst thing that could happen is that you don’t like it, but you’ll still get something out of it.”

Barnes said she is most looking forward to making history in the 2016-17 school year.

“I’m calling this the Powerhouse Team because I don’t think Miss UNA and the SGA President have ever been best friends or roommates,” she said. “It’s going to be a really good year for UNA.”