New student representatives aim to facilitate return to normalcy next semester

Caitlyn Burge was sworn in as Student Body president Tuesday and will serve a one-year term. 

As the newly elected Student Body president, Caitlyn Burge said she will focus on resolutions addressing international students, campus parking and expanding grade forgiveness as the campus returns to life next semester. 

Burge and other new representatives will oversee Student Government as UTA transitions back to in-person classes.

Burge has been serving in Student Government since transferring to UTA in 2019. 

She was previously a member of the External Relations Committee and served as the Speaker of the Senate. Burge, along with the new senators and vice president, were sworn in April 20. 

Burge said in her previous role she and other Student Government members weren’t able to accomplish everything they set out to do, and she decided to run for Student Body president to advocate for these goals going forward. 

“I knew I couldn’t leave it alone,” Burge said. “I knew I had to cast my name in the ring and run.” 

One of Burge’s priorities is to advocate for international students on campus. She is committed to help international students transition to in-person classes, as some may experience on-campus classes for the first time next fall, she said.  

Thomason Clayton, Student Body vice president, said he and Burge have some similarities in their platforms regarding international students’ issues.

“We know that international students don’t reap the entire benefits here at UTA, especially paying triple the amount of tuition compared to domestic students,” Clayton said. 

Clayton joined Student Government the fall 2020, and Burge appointed him to the Academic Affairs chair. 

“My vision is to hear both sides, hear every side, hear every angle and analyze it and make the school a better place for everyone,” Clayton said.  

Clayton said he and Burge are looking forward to advocating for a grade forgiveness policy for international students. Additionally, Clayton said they will revamp a resolution to revise UTA’s grade forgiveness policy to include 3000- and 4000-level courses. 

Burge said parking is one of the problems students consistently face. She is passionate about making sure that students can get to class on time and not spend so much money for a parking spot, she said. 

A resolution calling for the university to add an elective course that teaches students about insurance, college loans and mortgages will also be considered, Burge said. 

Burge said she is also planning to work closely with Counseling and Psychological Services to make resources more available and with Aaron Brown, Academic Advising assistant vice provost, to provide more advising resources.  

Seth Ressl, involvement and engagement senior director, has worked with Burge over the past year. 

He is looking forward to working with Burge in the upcoming year to re-energize student organizations and programs, Ressl said.   

All Student Body presidents need to be patient, focused, goal-oriented and a strong communicator and good listener to succeed. Burge possesses many of those qualities, Ressl said.  

Burge became the Student Body president with only 14 votes more than the runner-up, and voter turnout was relatively low. Clayton ran unopposed as the Student Body vice president. 

Ressl said the low voter turnout reflects challenges UTA is facing. Students may find it difficult to engage and feel connected with the candidates while classes are online and do not feel encouraged to vote, he said. 

Ressl said going forward there will be some form of in-person voting and campaigning. 

“We’re hopeful that we’re able to take and really develop something that is sort of the best of both worlds in the coming months that we can put into place for next year,” he said. 

Burge said one of her biggest worries is not fully accomplishing what her administration sets out to do.  

“At the end of the day, I’m just here to represent students to the best of my abilities,” she said. “I’m here to make sure that all their needs are known to the administration, and those are my primary concerns.” 

@DangHLe

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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