SGA President-elect Marquis Govan Talks Plans for SLU


(Emma Duman / The University News)

Marquis Govan is not new to politics. Born and raised in St. Louis, he became involved in activism in his early teens after witnessing inequity and unfair policing practices in his community. As the 2023- 24 Student Government Association President-elect, he hopes to bring his experiences and passions to the Saint Louis University campus.

A sophomore social work and sociology student, Govan is SGA’s current VP of Diversity and Inclusion.

SGA strives to create a space for students to participate in representative student government by providing an open forum to student opinions concerning the affairs of the University. Presidential elections for SGA were held on March 1 and 2 between Junior Brooke Kenworthy and Sophomore Marquis Govan.

“At SLU, you feel either really connected or really disconnected. I felt very disconnected when I first started at SLU. What helped combat this was people making an effort to include me and grant me the experience that I deserved. With my new position as SGA President, I hope to do the same,” Govan said.

The SGA President is responsible for overseeing student activity events and planning, policy support from faculty and students, allocation of funding and resources, serving as a bridge for communication between University staff and the student body, and most importantly, responding to issues thatareposedtomembersoftheSLU community.

The main driving factor for running for this position, Govan said, was his vision of organizing students on the fundamentals of accessibility and inclusion. 

“Seeing people not have any resources, including myself at times, made me realize how many students don’t understand people like myself exist. I want to give a voice to those who are marginalized and ignored,” Govan said.

Throughout his campaign, Govan prioritized a concept he referred to as “radical love, community and inclusion.”

“What does radical love even mean? Radical love to me means that people’s spirits are being comforted. It means that people with dietary restrictions have sufficient food to eat on campus. It means transgender and non-binary students feel comfortable being their true selves on campus. It means students with disabilities are able to navigate around campus. It means Black and Brown students feel safe,” he said. “When you talk about living in a radical community, it needs to be built on these fundamentals of love. Students must feel as if they are being invested in, not just surviving. Not everyone is in a ‘Roll Bills’ mentality here, because of the inequities they experience daily.”

To help students feel more at home at SLU, Govan said he believes a culture shift is beyond necessary, as it will create a more inclusive environment.

“A lot of people from marginalized communities come here and feel like they don’t fit in. Breaking barriers is key here,” Govan said. “I do believe a good place to start is by providing students with livable dorms, though. Especially for students with disabilities, dietary restrictions or those who are trans.”

The importance of breaking barriers, he noted, is that it requires the holistic embracement of people as individuals. What is stopping SLU from achieving this, he said, is a missing piece of compassion and understanding from students and faculty.

“We have lots of potential to build a culture that is inclusive and accepting. We already have resources, but sometimes people don’t feel like they are real. At times, they appear almost forced and performative. In order to shift this, there needs to be more sincerity, but I cannot be the only one implementing it. This needs to be a collective shift,” Govan said.

Govan emphasized that everything is interconnected and different issues that people may exhibit have more overlap than one would expect.

“Everything is multifaceted, which is why I approach things the way that I do. When I am talking about one issue, I am talking about multiple. This is why I will prioritize partnerships with RAs, RHA, Rainbow Alliance and Disability Services.”

He said he intends to encourage conversations about these topics by organizing his SGA presidency outside of the conventional view.

“By making the dialogue about both me and you, we are both taking responsibility. My primary goal is to discuss those who aren’t physically present at the [presidential] meetings, and while I am outside of these meetings, I intend to include people in the dialogue who weren’t a part of them,” Govan said.

As he steps into his new role, he said his most important message for our community was his promise to listen. 

“I exist to serve the SLU population. I am accessible. If anyone has a problem, please reach out to me,” he said.