Richardson feels the campus culture needs to change


(L-R) Newly elected Jaylan Brown will serve as the Student Body Vice President and Gem Richardson will serve as the Student Body President

Micah Sanders, Editor-in-Chief

In 1974, Patricia Maryland broke the Alabama State University Student Government Association’s (SGA) glass ceiling by becoming the first female to hold the position of president. If it is left to Gem Richardson, the 2021-22 Student Body President, not only will the glass ceiling be broken, it will be completely removed.
Richardson, a senior biology pre-medicine major, is joined by Vice President Jaylan Brown, Treasurer Jeremi Moore, and Secretary Dyoni Charlton, all elected by the student body in April.
Richardson wants to advance the quality of student life by bringing the student body to the ‘next level’ with new initiatives and events.
With most schools and universities across the country shifting back to the in-person curriculum, Richardson said she would like to see an increase in student engagement and student leaders.
“Even though a lot of students may not be in SGA, it’s still our job as the student government to shape and mold everyone into a leader,” Richardson explained. “ So that’s something that I am willing to strongly push for is the development of leaders on our campus, regardless of your role, your position, or who you are. That’s definitely one thing that I can say that my administration and I are bringing to campus this year.”
One of the initiatives that Richardson and the Next Level administration are planning to implement is ‘First Fridays,’ which will be used as a space to allow students to fellowship and network while building on the Hornet experience.
“The first Friday of every month starting Sept. 3, we will host an event on campus to give students a space to engage with others and build pride in the university.”
In addition to ‘First Fridays,’ Richardson looks to maintain her role as the liaison between the university president and the student body by creating office ‘hotspots’ around campus.
“I’m going to try to make it a point to do hot spots where I can possibly set up downstairs in the Hardy Center, the cafe, or in the residence halls to make myself accessible to students,” Richardson said. “Because everybody doesn’t feel comfortable or even want to come to the office. So I want to go to them and show them that ‘I’m here for you and I’m ready to listen.’ You have a voice, and I want to hear it.”
Hoping to increase the quality and quantity of student events, Treasurer Jeremi Moore is tasked with fundraising this year.
“This is just to help raise money for student needs and student events to give us a little bit more range on what we can do for them,” Richardson explained. “ We have been thinking about doing a 4K Run, and that will help with getting student and community organizations involved while also raising money for a good cause.
The Hampton, Georgia native wants to give students more insight into the SGA and their motives and plans to gain more visibility around campus. By creating an SGA webpage as one of her initiatives, she says it will allow students access to an initiative tracker, contact information, and updates on the legislature.
Even with ASU’s mask-mandatory mandate and the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine, Richardson believes that fear will stop some of the students from being fully involved in the many events she has planned.
“A lot of people are going to be a little bit scared to kind of interact on campus and go out and go to class,” Richardson says. “Some of the students might be scared because the Delta variant is approaching us quickly. So we don’t know where this can take us. We don’t know if we can be shut down again.”
She assures that the administration will push to keep students engaged and encourage them to remain motivated safely, even amid a global pandemic.
Continuing to push for change, the Next Level administration is in the process of completing the revisions of the now 10-year-old SGA constitution. Richardson plans to have the updated constitution passed by the Senate and put before the board of trustees by the spring semester, allowing the administration to have enough time to do more research or scrap the revisions made and start anew, if necessary.
Marking her calendar for Sept. 1, 2021, Richardson hopes to release her strategic plan for the school year.
“That will encompass our goals, with dates, that we wanna reach. I can’t wait to start releasing the events that we’ve been planning for students and just having a great time!” she says. “[We have] been working hard this summer, and we’ll continue working hard and advocating for the students.”