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Released July 24, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG- Officers of The University of Southern Mississippi Student Government Association came away with new ideas and goals for the 2003-2004 school year after attending a recent national student government workshop in Asheville, N.C.

Sponsored by the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) and held in various regions of the country, the student government workshops are designed to assist student government leaders in developing stronger and more effective leadership on their campuses.

Among the topics addressed included how to improve relationships with university officials and campus staff, how to use technology to maximize student government presence, programs and services, and how to create strong student government programs to ensure smooth leadership transition from one year to the next.

"I think this particular workshop provided a good opportunity for our students to meet with students from other universities who are in a similar type of setting and work with similar students," said Mike Mitchell, assistant dean of students at Southern Miss, who attended the workshop along with Southern Miss Dean of Students Dr. Eddie Holloway. "It also gave them an opportunity to see what other student government associations are doing for their student bodies, and what they are doing to increase and improve services for their students."

Students who attended the workshop from Southern Miss included SGA President Jared Loftus; Vice President Sarah Spigener; Attorney General Chad Cornett; Election Commissioner Alex Thames and Treasurer Alicia Lane.

"We learned some team building concepts for our student government, how to stay on one page and keep communication going well with the student body, and ways we can get more involvement from students and how to make them more aware of issues facing them and the university," said Thames, a senior computer science major from Richland.

"It was also a great way for us to bond with each other, to get better acquainted as well as to gain new ideas."

Thames said one proposal that the SGA is considering implementing this fall is an online voting option for homecoming elections. "I came back with some new ideas on how to implement that," he said. "We've got the ball rolling on that and hopefully we can have it (in place) this fall."

Spigener said one of the goals she came back from the conference with was to work to further educate and communicate with the Southern Miss student body about the SGA and what it can do for them.

"One of things that we talked about was public relations (regarding what student government services are available), and that was something I want us to work on," said Spigener, a junior Spanish major from Gulfport. "We had better public relations last year than in the past, but a lot of people still don't know who we are, especially off-campus students."

Spigener said one way to reach out to the university's large number of off-campus students would be to increase the number of the SGA's off-campus senators by three, a proposal that the SGA is considering for the upcoming school year. "I think that would be a good way to get a chance to see what their (off-campus students) needs are and for them to know that there are students working for them, and that their voices will be heard," she said.



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August 18, 2003 2:27 PM