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SGA completes unification with election of president and campus vice presidents

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Jelma Flores-Mota has been elected president of UNG's unified Student Government Association.

The unification of the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Student Government Association (SGA) is making history in more ways than one.

Jelma Flores-Mota will serve as the university's first unified SGA president, and UNG's Blue Ridge Campus is launching SGA for the first time this fall.

All five campuses have a vice president in the new setup: Xandrea Dantin (Blue Ridge), Bianca Cattani (Cumming), Heaven Ford (Dahlonega), Nick Mitchell (Gainesville), and Maggie Holt (Oconee). Noah Bryant will chair the SGA Senate, which includes representatives for UNG's colleges, campuses and certain populations.

"I am proud of the SGA leadership that worked very hard on getting this unification completed for the 2020-21 academic year," said Dr. James Conneely, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. "I am also appreciative of the dedication and mentoring that the SGA advisers provided to the students during this extensive process. A consolidated SGA will provide a strong foundation as the representative body for students in helping UNG to reach new levels of excellence."

Mallory Rodriguez, director of student leadership at UNG, is excited to see how students take advantage of the new format.

"It was designed by the students to give their fellow students a larger and more credible voice," Rodriguez said. "They can work with the administration in a way they've never been able to before."

Flores-Mota, a junior from Gainesville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in political science with a pre-law concentration and a minor in public relations, said SGA's aim is to enhance engagement with students, particularly in the midst of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been eye-opening being able to focus on universitywide issues and questions students may have," Flores-Mota said. "It's been nice to work on it together. We're able to work on things across the university and talk about possible solutions."

Dantin is grateful to help start SGA in Blue Ridge.

"It's really exciting, especially because it's like a blank canvas. There's a lot of room for creativity and inspiration from other campuses," Dantin said. "I'm curious to hear what the campus has to say, what students want."

The legislative branch features elected and commissioned senators. The 19 elected senators plus a senate chair represent UNG's colleges and campuses. One senator each represents the College of Arts & Letters, College of Education, College of Health Sciences & Professions, Institute of Environmental and Spatial Analysis, Mike Cottrell College of Business, College of Science & Mathematics and University College. The other 12 senators represent the five campuses. Blue Ridge and Cumming will have one each, Oconee will have two, and Dahlonega and Gainesville each will have four.

Commissioned senators are appointed to represent specific populations. They include commuters, the Corps of Cadets, dual-enrolled students, first-year experience, fraternity and sorority life, international students, LGBTQIA, multicultural, residential, student-athletes, students with disabilities, student organizations, transfer, and veteran and adult learners. Freshmen make up the First-Year Senate.

Campus governance features three elected officers to manage communications, election and finance on each campus. These officers and campus senators govern the daily operations such as new club approval, mini-grants and budgets. To learn how to become a part of SGA, go the UNG SGA webpage.

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