The first step in solving any problem is recognizing one exists. The Student Association has not been working for you — at least not for all of you. Far too often we find that a diversity of voices are not being heard within the SA, that the interests of the silent minority are ignored in pursuit of the outspoken majority’s agenda. That ends now. I am deeply grateful for the SA’s strong leadership in recent years that has pushed us toward broader inclusion, but there is always room for improvement. We can do far better and we owe it to you to do better. 

The Student Association must represent all students, not just those who feel empowered to run for office. This is why in the coming days and weeks, the external vice president and I will begin meeting with various student groups and underrepresented populations to open lines of communication and ensure that the SA is a resource for all students. Whether you are Hispanic or Asian, black or white, international or Texan, queer or straight, Muslim or Catholic, of low socioeconomic status or high, or none of the above, the Student Association ought to work for you. If you would like to meet with us, please reach out. This will not be quick nor easy. There is no simple fix. However, we are deeply committed to making progress.

In the coming year, the SA will be proactive in pursuing issues important to you. We will dedicate the full resources of the Student Association toward an inclusive agenda, but we need direction. If you have a problem, big or small, voice it to a senator, college president or SA executive member. We are eager to listen and help. 

We cannot take on this ambitious agenda in a vacuum. The Student Association is capable of accomplishing incredible initiatives like Rice Education of the Future and Critical Thinking in Sexuality, but we need your help to do it. Participate, speak up, be vocal, be unafraid. When you are ready, we will be listening.

Griffin Thomas is Student Association president and a Lovett College junior.