SA Assembly grows to 42 members

First Assembly meeting of the semester has record turnout

This semester, there are 42 members of the Student Association Assembly - 30 more than last semester.

"I'm shocked, in a good way," Assembly Speaker Steven Jackson said after the Assembly's first meeting of the semester on Wednesday. "I think a lot of it had to do with media and marketing, and SA really stepped up over the break and delivered some awesome posters, awesome flyers, definitely got the word out a lot better than I could've imagined."

There were 12 active members of Assembly at the end of the fall semester. Wednesday's meeting was buzzing with member participation. The diverse group of students, many new to Assembly, were raising their hands in response to Jackson's main question of the night: "What do you want to see done at UB?"

Members brought up broad topics that involve working with administration and students to bring change to campus, but focused their attention on these few: revisiting the UB Breathe Free policy, engaging international students in SA and informing the general student population about what SA does.

Jackson announced at the meeting he will not run for re-election after this semester and will leave the student government as a whole. The junior history and education major, who has been involved with student government since high school, is switching his major to computer science and wants to focus on his upcoming challenging curriculum.

Jackson has been a member of the Assembly since his freshman year. He said the group's biggest accomplishment in the past three years has been reducing student apathy.

The 42 students who attended on Wednesday night, many of whom were active participants, are what make him feel like he's leaving the Assembly having promoted change in the government body.

Jackson said the most important matter brought up on Wednesday that he believes must be tackled is UB Breathe Free - a campus policy that prohibits smoking indoors and outdoors that he believes is habitually unenforced.

"I'm not saying I disagree with it, and I'm not saying I agree with it," Jackson said. "It's one of those things that is great on paper, but there's really no way of implementing it. And so I think it's important to revisit the policy and see how we can tweak so it has the interests of students better in mind."

Jackson's main goal for his last semester as speaker is to see "independence for the Assembly."

"I'm hoping what comes out of this Assembly is people who are confident to go up to administrators and ask them questions, and I'm hoping the administration is going to be receptive of that," he said.

The group of 42 seemed passionate and optimistic to begin the semester as active Assembly members, but only time will tell if they will put their enthusiasm into action.

The next meeting will be on Feb. 27. Jackson plans to ask SA Treasurer Justin Neuwirt to attend and discuss safety on South Campus - a goal Neuwirt has been pursuing through community engagement and consulting administration during his tenure.