As East Carolina University’s Student Government Association (SGA) begins its campaign process for the 2021-2022 academic year, SGA President Tucker Robbins and SGA Vice President Laura Hayes will begin their transition out of their SGA leadership positions on April 10.
Robbins said his goal was to make SGA more visible to students on-campus and to create more transparency between students and the association with his term. He said although the COVID-19 pandemic put a delay on the execution of initiatives, he and Hayes will conclude their term with strengthened relations between students and law enforcement, the launch of the BetterYou app and advocated for increased accessibility to campus.
There were times when Robbins wondered if his decisions were for the better good of the students, where he wished he could address each individual student’s needs, but he said he knew that could not always happen. He said he relied on SGA’s Student Assembly to be honest with him on certain situations as they were a representation of ECU’s student population.
“Every decision I've made, everything I've advocated for, definitely is for the greater good of the majority of our students,” Robbins said.
With his last day in office as SGA President on April 10, Robbins said he will leave behind some proposals he hopes to see come to light through the next leadership administration. He said himself and Hayes developed a proposal for a rideshare program through ECU that will increase accessibility to campus for students who live past where ECU transit routes go or need rides past the operation hours of transit.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, SGA switched its focus from its long-term initiatives to address the immediate needs of the student population, according to Robbins. He said he is in the process to advocate for the removal of fees to use the University of North Carolina (UNC) proctoring system, as students did not choose to be moved online and carry the burden of additional costs associated with the transition.
Robbins said the SGA president’s spot on the ECU Board of Trustees (BOT) helps keep the committee in the loop about what goes on daily at ECU. He said being the only student on the board can be difficult sometimes, but it creates a space for the student voice to be heard.
“I kind of play a different role in the trustees (BOT) because I’m solely there to advocate for the students, but I'm also aware of the university advancement,” Robbins said.
A position with SGA gives students an opportunity to gain leadership skills and time management, according to Robbins. He said he would advise the next student who serves as the SGA president to stay true to themselves and not to let anything get in the way of advocating for students’ needs.
SGA Vice President Laura Hayes said her role through SGA taught her the power of communication and delegation of tasks. She said her position runs the internal affairs of student government and she spends a lot of her time in collaboration with the directors underneath her.
Hayes said the SGA vice president position deals with several different matters that come up at random, which can take unexpected time out of the day. She said her time with SGA has prepared her for her future career in the field of administration.
“There are a lot of student needs and those needs vary very much, so it’s really important to take the time to listen and to find the best way to give back and serve the students,” Hayes said.
Prior to her role as SGA Vice President, Hayes said her position on the ECU Conduct Board made her aware of the work needed to be done for students and the university. She said when Robbins reached out to her to run alongside him, she was thrilled.
Hayes said transparency of student dollars was a focus for herself and Robbins because she feels a lot of students don’t know where their money goes. She said the SGA director of Academic Affairs Joshua Spears has worked to create transparency in student textbook prices, which she hopes to see go into effect when the next administration steps in.
For the future of Pirate Nation, Hayes said she hopes to see more access to campus for students alongside more access to proctoring as the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered students ability to go to in-person centers. She said her hope is for East Carolina to continue to persevere through the years to come.
“Serving Pirate Nation has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life and I will be forever grateful for the abundance of knowledge and skills that I will carry into my professional career,” Hayes said.