New student government association president aims to engage students
Virginia Tech's newly elected Student Government Association president says he would like to engage students, interact with them, and encourage an open dialogue in an attempt to better understand student needs and student life.
Brent Ashley of Felton, Del., is a senior double majoring in animal and poultry sciences and dairy science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is also pursuing a minor in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
Ashley says he chose to join the race for SGA president because he saw the potential for improvement. He was quick to commend the previous administration but has some ideas of his own for potential growth and betterment of the organization and Virginia Tech as a whole.
Ashley is eager to act as a liaison between the student body, SGA, and Virginia Tech faculty and staff. “Student life should be taken seriously,” said Ashley, who said he will strive to improve the undergraduate experience in his time as president.
While Ashley worked hard to attain the position of president he understands one important truth. “It’s not about what I want to be; it’s about what I want to do,” he said. That is why he has a running list of aspirations and ideas for the year ahead.
He stressed the importance of strengthening and growing first internally and then letting that be the foundation for positive change and growth for the rest of the student body.
First on his list is revamping the annual SGA retreat. In past years the retreat was solely for the executive branch members. This year Ashley has decided to invite all branches to be a part of the retreat. This will foster a good working relationship and open dialogue throughout the SGA.
Other ideas for the year include increasing awareness of student organizations by having representatives from every student organization as a part of SGA; attempting to increase voter turn out for SGA elections; and perhaps moving elections earlier. Holding elections earlier will give candidates more time to campaign and allow more people to become involved in the process and the voting, Ashley said.
Ashley is ready for improvements and also ready to tackle obstacles. “If an issue is presented to us, we will address it,” he said.
One issue he is working on involves Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets members not having easily accessible parking. He also says the SGA plans to research student opinions about tobacco use on campus.
As summer comes to a close and the new school year arrives Ashley says he is looking forward to working with SGA vice president Anjelica Smith of Chesapeake, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Anjelica is great,” he said, “She’s great to work with and has become one of my best friends.”
He also says he's excited to work with the rest of the SGA members, students, faculty, and staff. His enthusiasm was evident as he addressed the incoming students and class of 2017 at New Student Orientation, urging them to make the most of their college experience.
“Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) ― it is the fire that burns inside every Hokie’s heart. All things considered, my first piece of advice is to get involved,” Ashley told first-year students, referring to the university's motto.
He offered this advice from a place of experience. Ashley serves on the Student Life Council, which works on ways to engage students and enhance their undergraduate careers. Other organizations he is involved in include Block and Bridle, the Dairy Club, the clay target shooting club, FarmHouse Fraternity, Relay For Life, Alpha Zeta, and Interfraternity Council.
Ashley said he is taking what he has learned from these roles and using that knowledge to lead in his new role. From his numerous roles and involvement Ashley has seen the benefits of teamwork. “I can lead, but I think teamwork and doing things together is better,” he said.
When asked what plans he has for the future Ashley quickly responded, “Beat ‘Bama,” with a laugh. And although he offers no promises, he also mentioned the hopes of working to obtain an exciting speaker for spring commencement. After graduation, he said he is considering vet school or law school, or maybe even both.
Until then he’ll be working on improvement, engagement, and being a resource for the students of Virginia Tech.
Written by Blair McGee of Virginia Beach, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.