Waterbury, CT -- The Student Government Association (SGA) at Naugatuck Valley Community College has been around since the College’s inception in 1962, first as separate entities of Mattatuck Community College and Waterbury State Tech and later combined in 1992 with the merger of the two institutions into Naugatuck Valley Community College.
The SGA consists of senators from the general student population and representatives from each recognized student club and is governed by a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
Through the SGA, students can grapple with important campus issues by attending weekly meetings. Students who are active in the SGA also have the opportunity to work closely with College administration, serving on institutional committees and providing a student voice in major community initiatives.
According to Daniel Betancourt (top right), SGA president, student government provides students with an opportunity to share their opinions and be a part of decisions that affect an entire community.
“Student government sponsors a variety of events and is always looking for opportunities to promote change within the College and beyond,” said Betancourt. “It also gives teachers and administrative staff direct insight into what students need and want.”
According to Linda Stango, director of admissions and former student activities director, one of the biggest benefits is “connecting students to faculty in a direct way.”
“Building relationships and keeping students and faculty members connected is the main key to retention. If they know there is someone looking for them next semester, they know they’ll be missed and it gives them incentive to return.”
The club genres are as diverse as the students themselves. Today, the SGA offers more than 40 clubs to choose from.
“Students take initiative in organizing and opening specific clubs according to their interests and then use that platform to promote community issues and awareness, “said Ramon Velasquez, president of the Hispanic Student Union (HSU), an active SGA club.
A few years ago the HSU helped pull together volunteers from the College to serve Sunday meals at St. Vincent De Paul’s after learning that the kitchen lacked volunteers and funding. Approximately four years later, NVCC students and staff have selflessly devoted themselves to keeping the Kitchen open every week since.
The HSU isn’t the only club full of inspiring people who want to make a real change in their school and community. Zack Borgstedt, president of the newly formed Music & Arts Club, has leveraged the SGA to establish weekly events and exhibitions for aspiring local artists.
“We are a growing community of musicians, artists and enthusiasts embarking on a mission of peace, love, unity and respect,” said Borgstedt. “Our main goal is to create a stimulating atmosphere for Naugatuck Valley students with the aim to promote aspiring artists and musicians while bringing awareness to real word issues facing our generation.”
At the Music & Arts club’s weekly exhibitions, there are posters of the different awareness events and charities that other clubs are involved with. Last semester, the club encouraged students to go without shoes for a day, promoting the TOMS organization and it’s One Day without Shoes event that raises awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life.
All of these activities flow perfectly into Betancourt's plans for the SGA while president.
“I want the school to have a more pronounced sense of community within the student body and I want more students to participate in activities on and off campus,” said Betancourt. “I’m always looking for ways to invite students to get involved."
This article was researched and documented by Jean O’Connor, a work study student in the Office of College Marketing and Public Relations.