Every other week, the Talon invites a member of the Oklahoma Christian University community, a “Newsmaker,” to answer questions about their role on campus.
On Aug. 31, Micah Burk, the president of the Student Government Association at Oklahoma Christian, answered questions about her plans and vision as president this year.
What obstacles have previously prevented SGA goals, and how do you plan to navigate them this year?
“We would like to start where Kiva stopped last term because she made such great momentum. Essentially, the way SGA works is, I’m the visionary. I set the vision with the executive team, and all the work and play out happens in the committee. Our focus is on making progress and accomplishing tasks. It is a unique structure: focusing on working directly with the committee chairmen, keeping each other accountable, making sure they know all our assignments, and delegating those to committee members who they regularly check on to make sure things are getting done. ”
What do you hope to accomplish?
“The fulfillment of the three pillars SGA set. The first is unity, which we will focus on within the school. The school itself is doing the same in smaller settings to come up with one cohesive group.
“The second one is retention, which plays a big part in the university’s structure. The administration says getting people into Oklahoma Christian is not as big of a problem as keeping them all four years. This is where we struggle. We are going to be focusing our efforts on improving retention rates and numbers.
“The third pillar is being better at communication and making personal connections. This goes from SGA to the student body, to SGA communicating with President John deSteiguer in his office. We want the school to be more like an open-ended conversation where we all know what is going on.”
What sets you apart from previous SGA presidents?
“I grew up with the SGA president from my freshman year. She always told me, ‘I know you are going to run for president one day.’ I always said ‘No,’ and that it could never be me. We’ve had good presidents in the past years, and I’ve tried to implement a lot of what they set up. The one thing that sets me apart from them is how widespread I’ve been on campus and my involvement in different areas. I was on the volleyball team my freshman year, so I understand the athletic point of view, but I stopped playing because of an injury. I also joined SGA my freshman year, and I was so involved. Maintaining all this has been a bit of a rollercoaster, but I am grateful for the variety of people who I have been able to meet throughout. It is my unique gathering or involvement from all these different aspects that I think gives me insight into the student body and helps me relate to different groups of people.”
What are you looking to put in place to maintain retention?
“We are hosting a student organization fair. I don’t know why this hasn’t been done in the past. Most students know of social clubs, but we have so many other student organizations. When thinking about retention and why people leave, I talked to my friends who have left or are thinking of leaving, and they say they do not feel this is the right place, they have not found the right people. So, I think the biggest upfront area we can address is making sure people get plugged in with the community they need. I feel Oklahoma Christian has diverse enough groups to where everyone can truly find people who are similar to them in one way or another.”
Does SGA have any plans to help mitigate or relieve stress for students as they go throughout college?
“That is something the student body has to let us know about. We have the sources and the ways to help students and also walk alongside them in such times. We cannot always seek out that information, but with open communication, we can. I hope students feel more welcome to come in and share those things. That way we can implement some kind of strategy to help them.”
Do you have any plans to make SGA more accessible to freshmen?
“Yes. Freshmen always takes the longest to get into SGA because elections happen two weeks into the school year. By then, the rest of the senate has already met. We filled our last freshman position last Wednesday. Now that we have a complete senate of freshmen, we can come in and guide them into communication with the SGA.”
How do you plan on implementing the new motto said at the end of SGA meetings: ‘Go Serve, Go Love?”?
“I added a part during the adjournment of SGA meeting where I say ‘Go serve’ and everyone responds with ‘Go, love.’ Honestly, it was just a tagline I threw in as I was preparing for the first meeting to remind us of why we are here and what we are doing. It also reminds me of the example Jesus set out for us by loving everyone through service. That is why SGA is here. We are here to serve the student body. This tagline is a reminder for SGA to carry out and fulfill their responsibilities and positions within the Senate.”
What made you get involved in student government and pursue presidency?
“I was raised in a family where instead of complaining about things, you stepped in as a leader and saw them through. In college, when I stopped playing volleyball, the opportunity of SGA was presented to me and I loved it. I talked to Katie [Martinez] and the rest was history. During my freshman year, I was the class vice president. I didn’t do anything during my sophomore and junior year. What led me to run for presidency my senior year was Katie, who reached out and said she would love to have me as the president. I prayed about it and later ran for the presidency.”