New SGA president brings experience and hope for a smooth transition to next year

With the spring semester over, many campus organizations have held elections to transition from one Executive Board to the next.

The Student Government Association (SGA), which acts as a liaison between students, faculty and administrators, closed its polls on April 13, electing Danny Riffel as the 2012 president.

The other Executive Board members are: Executive Vice President Linnaia McKenzie, Administrative Vice President Joshua Krueger and Comptroller Katie Carlino.

Senior Riffel has become familiar with the inner workings of SGA throughout his academic career. He served as scribe for SGA Senate meetings under the direction of prior Administrative Vice President Luke Whitworth.

This gave Riffel ample time to become comfortable with the organization and prepare for greater tasks.

“That year was definitely a step up for me in levels of responsibility I had to shoulder,” he said. “But I enjoyed the challenge.”

During that time, he interacted with many students, which became one of many motivations to run for president.

A Kansas City native, Riffel grew up loving everything the city has to offer, including UMKC.

“I want to give back to the university in any way I can in order to repay it for everything that it has provided me,” he said.

Riffel is determined for this experience to mold his professional future while enhancing his leadership ability on campus.

“There will always be situations where you can only please one side of the table, and the losing side lets you know how they feel,” he said. “I believe that SGA can help me learn to handle these situations with as much poise and leadership as possible.”

With many tasks already emerging for the new SGA board, one of the things Riffel is most excited about is the debate surrounding UMKC’s potential name change to the University of Kansas City (UKC).

“It will be very interesting to see the opinions of all the different facets of university life,” Riffel said.

There are many goals Riffel hopes to accomplish in the upcoming academic year, some of which the SGA board has already addressed. The SGA board’s initial concern is the Senate Quorum.

Quorum is the required number of voting

members that must be present at each SGA board meeting for the vote to be valid. According to Riffel, there have been struggles in the past with reaching quorum. In order to eliminate this issue, SGA is looking to lower the quorum.

“We have an issue getting quorum at meetings due to conflicting schedules from Hospital Hill students, who often are unable to come to meetings simply because of difficult class scheduling, along with additional commute back to the Volker campus,” Riffel said. “Not to say they are the only ones to blame.”

Riffel hopes the SGA board will still make sufficient progress even with fewer voting members in attendance.

In an effort to create a stronger relationship between SGA and individual students and organizations, the board has addressed another potential goal.

“The second main goal for us as an Exec. Board is to host monthly lunches in the SGA chambers that will be an open forum for students to come and discuss issues with us,” Riffel said. “They can come with complaints about our performance, what they expect us to be doing or not doing, how they can help; anything.”

Riffel also wants SGA to hold numerous events throughout the year, especially during homecoming week, that would highlight and promote finished constructions on campus, such as the Student Success Center and the Cherry Street parking garage.

Technology is another focus for this new group. Hoping to make online contact easier, SGA has considered eliminating their current website and switching to Roo Groups.

“Last year, we debated switching over from having our own private website to Roo Groups, but we decided against it because the system was fairly new and we didn’t want people being unable to access our information because they couldn’t work the system,” he said.

SGA is responsible for several campus-related tasks which, according to Riffel, fall under the jurisdiction of two main councils, the Senate and Student Activity Funding Committee (SAFC). The SGA holds meetings throughout the year with these two councils.

“During these meetings we discuss pertinent issues regarding students as well as possible resolutions that could encourage the solution process for these issues,” he said.

Creating a strong relationship with students is one of the primary goals for not only Riffel, but the rest of the executive board. Meetings also consist of discussing important campus issues, allowing students and administration who are not directly involved in SGA to present concerns and inquiries for the organization to consider.

This transition to a new Executive Board has resulted in a new agenda with important goals and ideas that will positively affect the entire university. Riffel has high hopes in his ability to influence UMKC and the rewards he will receive in return.

rbrooks@unews.com

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