Marshall University Student Body President Stephanie Rogner and Vice President Anna Williams said they are prepared to do the work it takes to positively impact students’ lives across campus.
Even though students may only see the fruits of their labor when the work is done, both Rogner and Williams said their most basic previous experience was a prime qualification for running in the first place: being students at Marshall.
“I almost feel like, with the position that we’re in has made us more of a student than we ever have been because we get to see and act on different parts of being a student,” Rogner said. “(Yes), we might have been in these organizations and these clubs before, but now we really understand the pain points of what people are going through and how we can combat those. It’s like we are a student but on steroids.”
Tackling students’ biggest issues has been the driving focus of their initiatives since taking office, and some of the firsts have been food insecurity on campus and working to provide additional resources with Marshall’s food pantry. After seeing the need for the food pantry and the limited resources they were working under, Williams said she took the issue back to the office and to the Student Government Association Senate to gather support for a solution.
“It was really upsetting, as they didn’t really have a lot of supplies in stock,” Williams said. “We now have been able to stock that pantry every week this semester and find, I think, six community partnerships now. It’s been really incredible to see the support Marshall students have for one another, especially within our senate.”
It is projects like these that Rogner and Williams said fuel them, even with the added responsibility of being full-time students, student representatives and for Rogner, a student athlete as well. They both added that these projects align with being a student in the first place, which makes the often-challenging balance worth it to them.
“We’re representing over 13,000 students, which is insane,” Rogner said. “But at the same time, it’s really motivating, and that’s what I was saying about the fuel.”
More projects, such as a Marshall scholarship database, a gap program and a meal sharing program, all come from this same challenge of helping students on both a micro and macro level, the pair said.
Rogner and Williams further explained: The scholarship database will connect students with more than $1 million in currently unused scholarship funds, the gap program is designed to bail out students with relatively small dollar amounts and a meal sharing program would allow students to donate unused meal swipes and flex dollars to students.
However, these ideas were not created by just Rogner and Williams, Williams said.
“We took seeds from students during the campaign on what they wanted to see, and that’s how we tailored these broad scenarios with the student input and put them into things that are narrow and achievable,” Williams said.
Williams said she would never forget some of the stories she heard on the campaign trail.
“You remember the needs that people express to you and it makes it all worth it, it really does,” she said.
Students undeniably can power change at any university, and Rogner and Williams said they want to encourage students to voice their ideas.
“There are so many people on this campus willing to embrace those ideas, it’s just a matter of communication and connection,” Williams said. “We were voted into this office by students, therefore we work for students. Bring those ideas and thoughts forward because that’s what we can act upon. There is power in being a student at Marshall University.”
Rogner said she and Williams are working on more than projects that just interest them, but projects that interest other students as well.
“We don’t do it for us at all, if we may not feel passionate about something but a student feels passionate about something, we’re doing something about it,” Rogner said.
Students may connect with Rogner and Williams on social media through the Student Government Association’s official accounts or by directly contacting them through email, phone or in their office on the second floor of the Memorial Student Center.
Tyler Spence can be contacted at [email protected]