The Most Important Thing I Learned In SGA

There are two ways by which something can spread.

The first is by darkness.

It is by meeting others with the same hostility that they have met you with.

Fighting fire with fire, if you will.

The second way is by light.

It is greeting every person with a smile and genuine happiness despite the fact that they might have no interest in what you are saying or what you stand for.

There are endless opportunities offered by SGA.

The positions that I was lucky enough to serve in have proven to me that you can do as much as you wish to if you are willing to put in the work.

That; however, is not the big lesson behind running for an SGA office.

The most important thing is how you earn your votes and gain your supporters.

I learned the importance of this on the very first day of active campaigning when I ran for office as a freshman.

I was very eager to get my name out to people across campus and to talk with other students about our campaign’s goals for the future.

The students; however, were not always as eager to stop and talk to us.

Many times people put in headphones and walked passed without giving us a second thought.

Photo Credit: Jen Burleigh

It began to make me feel like I was doing something wrong.

While there were plenty of people stopping to talk to me who were more than interested in what I had to say, I was still insecure about those who ignored me when I tried to reach out to them.

There was another campaign member who was facing the same struggle and made a comment about how he wanted to reply to them with the same disregard as they had shown us.

Without thinking I told him, “I’m just going to be really nice to them.”

And that is what I did.

With every person that walked by I smiled at them and wished them all a good day, especially when they looked like they were exhausted or all-around defeated.

I focused more on them than I did on the campaign and I just started talking to them.

It took longer to get around to my point, but in the end, they were able to get a few things off their chests and I got the opportunity to tell them how our campaign could potentially help them in the future.

The changes in people’s responses were almost immediate.

Photo Credit: Jen Burleigh

I stopped telling them about what I was planning on doing and starting asking them what I could be doing.

I took the happiness and excitement that I had and channeled into making them happier in the end.

It would have been easy to disregard every person who disregarded me but if I did that then no one wins.

I don’t get to share my message and they continue on with whatever struggles that they are facing.

That’s why I learned to be better.

I learned to recognize their dark clouds and I learned to help them to find their light.

No one will ever fully understand what someone else is going through so the least that we can do is try to make it better instead of worse.

I made my active campaign time matter because of this and I led with the light that I had within me rather than returning the disinterest that I was occasionally faced with.

I learned to ask, “How can I help?” rather than, “Let me tell you[…]” and people actually responded.

It didn’t take long for people noticed this new found approach to getting students’ attention.

Before long, I was known as ‘the girl one who could talk to anybody’ and a ‘light’ in the campaign.

For me, that was a success.

I built up my recognition through kindness rather than coldness and I became approachable to those around me.

This has followed me throughout every leadership role that I have taken on and will continue to follow me into the future.

So when you make your way into SGA remember that a little dose of kindness and understanding can go much farther than the immediate end that comes from turning your back.

Be open with your peers and help them.

Be the one to ask what you can do because you’ll quickly find that many people are in need of a helping hand.

If you do this then you can be one of the good ones who spreads light among the dark.

You can make a difference in your position with people who support you and trust you because you helped them get through their rough patch.

You helped them to be better and through that you became better.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: LSU Student Government/ Facebook

In Historic Move, U Of Alabama Elections Board Acknowledges Existence Of Secret Society

In a historic announcement, the University of Alabama SGA elections board acknowledged for the first time, the existence of a secret society that has for decades dominated campus politics.

The action came in the form of a post on the SGA website asking for students to “provide information regarding the existence of Theta Nu Epsilon a.k.a ‘The Machine.'”

Here’s the full announcement from the elections board:


“The Elections Board is extending an open invitation from anyone wanting to provide information regarding the existence of Theta Nu Epsilon a.k.a “The Machine.” This could include but is not limited to those that are members or officially tied to “The Machine” in any way.

To clarify, we would like to offer the opportunity to all individual(s) that are involved to speak before the board, as is one’s rights to due process. We do this to ensure all parties are given the opportunity to speak on the matter at hand.

Persons willing may send tangible evidence and information or submit a request to speak with the board in person, can correspond to We request this be done ASAP and at least by Monday, March 6 at noon.

This information is requested in response to multiple violation reports regarding endorsements and any information provided will be included on record for this case.”

This is a breaking story. We will update this story as more information becomes available. 

For more background on “The Machine”:

Read- Here’s Why The Current State Of Student Government Elections Are Killing American Democracy

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

What I Learned From Running For SGA At Liberty University

I have learned more than I think I could possibly write in a single article about life and politics by running for SGA office at Liberty University.

The office I ran for specifically within the SGA was Freshman Class President.

The reason that I had originally decided to run was because I felt a calling to.

Faith has always played a big part in my life and this was no different.

After I decided to run in August of 2016, I put together a team, budget, and strategy to run do it.

I learned very quickly that this was not like high school.

After talking to several people, I realized that others had budgets way higher than mine, but I knew that the power of communication and face to face interaction would be powerful.

I knew this because my father always stressed professionalism and being personal with people as the most effective tool.

Others had told me the same thing—so I understood it to be true.

In the process of running, I came to understand that presenting myself professionally is important and that you only have a few seconds to attract a voter.

I knew what my vision was and while I would have loved to speak about it for several minutes, I realized I had perhaps thirty seconds before someone gained interest or lost interest.

I experienced this quickly as I saw faces turn into forced smiles, or more preferably, eyebrows raise in interest.

I knew that in running, I would have to be personal with people, but do it quickly.

Very quickly actually.

Many people wandered on to other booths and others had food to attract voters.

In fact, one table made people pancakes.

I realized that it would be important for me to send people out to convince voters to vote.

At the table I ran, I left a video playing that expressed my views and went out to different people and tried to get them to vote.

Many already voted and were unable to vote again.

I learned this rather quickly and went out of my way to speak to several classes that had several hundred students.

All in all, I spoke to over 1500 people in only a few hours.

That evening, I found out that I won the election.

I was beaming.

The team that my Vice-President and I put together was exceptional, and we won our first election.

The team was quick and efficient and most importantly, personable.

The only way to attract a voter is to truly connect with them.

I learned through running for class president that it would be hard but definitely worth it if I could help people out.

I also learned that professionalism and being personable are the most important aspects of a campaign.

People care more about personal connection than they do about a video or a poster.

I remember a professor once told me that there a few things someone can tell about an individual.

Amongst those things were if someone cares, is passionate, and if they have vision.

I actually listened to people and went out of my way to understand why they wanted SGA to do for them.

I promised them that I would do my best to help them.

I remember the people I promised I would try to help and I have advocated for each and every one of them.

Those are the things that I think about before I go to bed.

I found myself writing those issues down and petitioning my own resources and connections to try and get the job done.

In holding the office that I hold, I have realized many things about myself and others.

I have realized that sometimes it can be really hard to get something done when people disagree with you.

I learned that leadership is service to others.

I learned that in order to get things done, it is important to be assertive.

In a room with others who have also been elected to represent others, it is important to go to bat for those you represent.

With a freshman class nearing four thousand students, it is incredibly important to represent the general interest of the class, foster unity, and bring up specific issues that can be fixed.

Most of what I do involves listening to others and researching different ways to help them.

Although this takes up a lot of time, I enjoy every second of it because I get to help people every day.

Overall, the experience of running for an office in SGA is stressful but it teaches discipline, humility, organizational skills, and teamwork.

In fact, I would go as far to state that is nearly impossible for someone to win a student election if they cannot work in a team.

If SGA has taught me one thing, it is that helping people is worth every second of potential adversity.

This adversity develops patience and resilience which are two traits that only motivate me to continue working hard on others behalf.

Leadership is service, regardless of the title that comes before your name.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Admitting Your Machine Backing Isn’t Courageous

By Mike Smith

Alabama SGA Presidential candidate Jared Hunter dropped a bomb on campus politics after he wrote a piece in The Crimson White acknowledging his Machine backing.

It was a bold, surprising act rarely seen among Machine supported candidates.

The response on social media so far has been a mixture of appreciation and support.

I am here to say that this should stop.

Don’t get my wrong, publicly announcing your Machine backing takes a lot of guts and the honesty Jared displayed should be admired.

But that doesn’t make his actions right.

No matter what is written in a Crimson White column, the fact still stands that The Machine acts as a vehicle for certain Greek students to pad their resume and has systematically oppressed women and minorities for a century.

I will remind you that The Machine has burned crosses on campus lawns, painted swastikas on university sidewalks, and literally physically assaulted an independent presidential candidate.

Jared Hunter is the Machine backed candidate in the SGA election. Photo Credit: Facebook

Within the past decade alone, The Machine has systematically suppressed numerous rape allegations among their members, tossed out FYC applications for black students after labeling them with the N-word, and delayed the racial integration of sororities until 2013.

Being associated with this organization is not something that can be written off in one column.

Read More: Here’s Why The Current State Of Student Government Elections Are Killing American Democracy

Having its support is not a cute, little trivia fact.

Being backed by The Machine is something to be ashamed of.

Lillian Roth getting sworn in as SGA President in 2016. Photo Credit: Lillian Roth/ Facebook

SGA candidate Gene Fulmer. (r). Photo Credit: Trinidad Miller/ Facebook

Over social media, I have heard plenty of people say that admitting to be a Machine candidate takes some real courage.

I vehemently disagree.

It takes real courage for my friends who stay in their Machine sororities even though they have verbally abused, socially ostracized, and personally threatened.

It takes real courage for Lillian Roth (the incumbent and prior Machine backed candidate) to run for re-election even after some of her best friends started working against her.

It takes real courage for Gene Fulmer to run a huge grassroots campaign in the face of two giant competitors.

It doesn’t take real courage to admit something everyone already knew.

Read More: This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo: The University of Alabama/ Facebook

“Take A Leake”: Alabama Bro Running For SGA Election Urges Supporters To Piss And Vote For Him

Student government elections are a favorite of ours to cover because of all the funny stuff that happens.

And there are few SGA elections this year that are more interesting then the one taking place at the University of Alabama.

Coming off an historic election last year which saw the election of the first African-American SGA president at UA in over 30 years, people are paying attention to see what happens next.

Read More: A Petition Campaign To Name A Building After Harper Lee On The University Of Alabama Campus Is Picking Up Steam

And while most of the campaigning on campus is fairly serious, one candidate is trying to have a little fun along the way.

His name is Ben Leake and he wants you take a piss and vote for him.

Don’t believe us? Just want his campaign video. You won’t be disappointed:

Photo Credit: Benedict Leake/ Youtube (Screengrab)

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