SGA update: Bryant opines on term


President focuses on transportation, engagement

In February 2015, SGA President Jay Bryant, along with his ticket Engage, ran on a platform of transparency and strong communication between the Student Government Association, the university and the student body. His biggest priority was to ensure student engagement on campus, as well as in the city and the neighborhoods surrounding SLU.

Now, six months after taking office as SGA president, Bryant reflects on what he’s accomplished so far and what his focus will be on in the months before his term ends and he says goodbye to SGA and to SLU.

During the election, transportation was a key point for the Engage ticket. Bryant proposed Upasses for the Metro and offering ways for students to get to places they want to go.

“When we were campaigning, one thing that we heard was, ‘Well, we would love to explore the city, and the Lou, but we need transportation. We need access.’ So we tried to create that right off the bat,” Bryant said.

For the most part, Bryant has delivered on those initiatives, moving toward a way to provide transportation for all students, through the shuttles and a pilot program with MetroLink.

At the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester, the shuttles were rerouted and offered different stops for students, rather than solely Brentwood Plaza.

“We rerouted the weekend shuttle to be more productive and used the students’ money better, because students pay for that service,” said Bryant. “Then out of that, we can provide event shuttles for the Hispanic festival in Soulard, the balloon glow, Soulard farmer’s market, things like that, trying to get students out into the city.”

However, perhaps a more notable accomplishment came early in the spring semester. On Jan. 11, metro Upasses for the MetroLink and MetroBus were made available to the freshman class, an initiative that is working as a pilot program—which is meant to someday be inclusive of all SLU students—costing approximately $35,000 out of the university’s budget.

“The metro pilot program like we’ve talked about was an idea that stemmed from last year’s executive board to administration, and then ever since last April, we’ve been working on it and having conversations about it. So it’s exciting that it finally got launched.”

Through Feb. 12, 529 out of more than 1,600 students have used their Metro Upasses at least once. Out of that number, 142 students have used their pass at least five times and 43 students have used it at least 10 times. In total, 2,359 taps, or uses, have been made by students.

“We just need students to get them and start using them,” said Bryant.

Bryant said in his time as president, he has tried to find the “Why’s”—why don’t students venture off campus? He’s made action to address the need for transportation. But he’s found that another answer to that question is that sometimes students are not aware of the events and activities available to them in the surrounding areas.

One focus for Bryant has been a partnership with Grand Center, located just a few blocks off campus.

“As much as transportation is a barrier to getting off campus, so is just knowing what events are off campus and how to explore St. Louis,” said Bryant.

Bryant has worked to develop a partnership with Grand Center that will work to be beneficial for not only students, but also for Grand Center. Along with some SLU administrators, Bryant met with about 13 marketing professionals representing various organizations and venues in Grand Center to talk about this partnership.

“At first, I almost felt like SLU and Grand Center were kind of defensive,” Bryant explained. Grand Center believed SLU students were not interested in visiting and faulted the university for not promoting the Center’s events enough. SLU claimed Grand Center did not promote to its students and did not offer enough student discounts. He continued, “Now it’s been nice, because throughout this, I’ve witnessed everyone letting their guards down and being open. Opening ears and hearts as far as ‘let’s have this conversation so that we can better everyone.’”

Through their conversations, Grand Center has added a feature to it’s website that Bryant called a ‘student filter’ on its events calendar. Students can now see when certain venues are offering a student night or have discounted tickets for students. On SLU’s end,  the fee that is policy for external vendors to table in the BSC has been waived for Grand Center—allowing for the Center to market what the area has to offer students.

On March 18, Grand Center will be tabling at the Clock Tower, offering a ‘Taste of Midtown’ with samplings from restaurants in the area, and will be giving away student tickets as well.

“I think this is what needs to be done for students to know to go to Grand Center,” said Bryant. He advocated for the student-friendly activities available for students, like the $10 tickets to concerts at the symphony, student jazz nights at Jazz at the Bistro and beer tastings at Urban Chestnut.

“It [Grand Center] could really heavily be utilized by students if they’re more educated about it. That’s what we are trying to do: break down those barriers.”

As the SGA executive board election for the 2016-2017 school year comes into view,  Bryant will spend the rest of his term making sure that what he has implemented will still be here even after he’s graduated.

“Right now, I’m going to spend my last couple months making sure that the things we’ve done this year stay sustainable and transition nicely into next year’s SGA.”

When his term is up, Bryant hopes to be remembered for putting his ideas into action.

“I try to be a listener more than I am a talker because we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. And I try to be an activator: so listening, hearing and then turning that into action, and following up with students.”

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