Katlyn Martin: Introducing SGA’s New President

In the weeks leading up to the SGA elections this year, it was not uncommon for a particular SGA campaign group to speak at a club or organization meeting. This group was Team Martin, a group of students campaigning for executive board roles in the Student Government Association. The team was named after and led by current VP of Finance Katlyn Martin, who won the election to be the next SGA president.

Martin has been a part of SGA since the beginning of her freshman year at SLU, after running for and winning a senate position. Over her last three years, she has held various roles in SGA, including a first-year senator, senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, Co-Chair of Student Outreach, and the Vice President of Finance, as well as sitting on several SGA committees. Martin said that the decision to run for president in her final year was a natural one.

“I saw that we have a need for change in SGA, especially with communication. I felt that the skills that I bring to the table was one of the reasons I felt that I wanted to run. I feel that I can create a really good change on campus and in SGA,” said Martin. “Also I like SGA, so the decision to find more ways to get involved wasn’t a hard one.”

Martin made the decision this year to run with a team of students, as opposed to running alone. She said that while her original plan was to run by herself, after speaking to the students who would eventually make up the team, it became apparent that a lot of the issues that were important to her overlapped with issues that other candidates felt passionate about as well. She said that forming the team took about two months to come together to decide their game plan.

Martin, who presented at 62 CSO meetings, or campaign stops, ran on a number of key platform points. The first main point was the accessibility of scholarships, especially for upperclassmen. Martin says that she wants to make sure all available scholarships are uploaded online and are made available to each student eligible for them.

The next point was strong communication between food, facilities and SGA.

“We really want to make sure that housing and Residence Life knows what we want fixed,” said Martin. “I’ve noticed a big disconnect between what we want and what gets fixed. Some people might not want new paint but want their pipes fixed.”

On the food side, SLU’s contract with Aramark will be renegotiated in the next year, and Martin says that she is focused on making sure SLU gets the best quality food out of the contract. She also says one of her main focuses is making sure that the current Aramark employees that are part of the SLU community get to maintain their jobs, no matter what contract the University chooses to pursue.

The third point of Martin’s campaign is, to use her words, “Chipping away at the SLU Bubble.” She wants to make sure that the SGA website and SGA itself is a resource to make sure that students find ways to explore and take advantage of the benefits of living in St. Louis.

“We live in such a great city,” said Martin. “There are all these really cool places that we could be exploring and hanging out at, and many people don’t know where to start looking.”

Martin also hopes to make SGA more accessible and visible to all members of the SLU community.

“One of the things I want to add is a quarterly report of what’s going on. A condensed version of what all has been going on.” said Martin, “I feel like students don’t know where they can go to access to information. I want to be able to direct them to it.”

Martin also says she wants to work on SGA senator development. She says that many senators are just thrown into their jobs without guidance on what to do or how to do it. She hopes to make sure that senators are clear on what they should be doing and how to develop the skills and tools they need to succeed. Martin hopes to spend time at the very beginning of next semester by working with senators on how best to engage their constituents and their jobs in SGA.

As well as winning her position, Martin said that this year’s election was a win for her in another way.

“This year we had the highest voter turnout we’ve ever had since we’ve had electronic records,” said Martin. “For me, if we had the highest voter turnout ever and we [the team] had lost, it still would have been a win for me.”

Martin says that this year’s election process felt very successful and more engaging than before. She felt that the election commission did a good job, and having the candidate debates streamed was a good move in engaging student voters.

Even during the excitement of the election, her main focus was still doing her job as the VP of Finance. This year, her role was more important than ever, in light of the push to raise the student activity fee. SGA has had increasing trouble funding all of the current CSOs, and the campaign to raise the student activity fee was a huge effort to make sure that all current and new CSOs would have the support they needed from SGA. Martin, as the VP of Finance, was on the front lines of this campaign doing a lot of the work.

“This increase will offset our new groups for sure,” said Martin. “The next hope is to use what we have left over from funding new groups to try and fully fund as much as we can [to] other events such as showcases and conferences for CSOs. We want to make sure that everyone has a shot if we have the ability to fund something.”

Martin and her team, which now makes up the SGA Executive Board, will be transitioning into their roles during the next few months before they assume the positions in May. Martin says that if she could give one message to all the students of SLU, it would be a message of thanks.

“Thank you. This is an incredible opportunity for many reasons.  I’m very excited, we have a great team,” said Martin. “We are ready, and we really want to make our University a better place.”