Tripp Keeffe and Sara Graham won the SGA Presidency and Vice-Presidency but who are they? Both sophomores and South Carolina natives, Graham said her older sister’s attendance to The College and the beauty of Charleston influenced her decision to pick The College of Charleston. Keeffe “fell in love with Charleston” after a conversation with a physician who advised Keeffe to apply to his alma mater. Keeffe is currently pursuing a political science major and Graham is studying accounting.
Keeffe was active in student government in high school and wanted to experiment with it in college. Keeffe described that in college, SGA he is able “to do something that’s beneficial to the students” so he stuck with SGA after being elected Freshman Senator. Graham expressed interest in SGA after arriving at The College. She enjoys seeing “tangible change” such as the formation of new clubs caused by her actions as treasurer.
Both Keeffe and Graham are motivated to hold high positions in SGA because of the opportunities they provide for Keeffe and Graham to “make an impact” on the community. Keeffe ran for President because as Vice President he realized that he could make “SGA more effective” at communicating within organization with students and College officials.
Keeffe and Graham are good friends, dating back to the beginning of their involvement in SGA which is why Graham was tapped to be his running mate. Keeffe said, “the President needs great support, especially when trying to change things up in student government.”
Keeffe and Graham are creating initiatives to alleviate issues from previous semesters. Among them are informing students of SGA’s actions through tabling, events and the creation of a new position “dedicated to communications efforts” which includes “bolstering [SGA’s] social media presence.”
Keeffe and Graham are also creating a Diversity Council in which representatives from various groups on campus will be able to address their concerns to the President and Vice President directly at bi-weekly meetings, in an effort to help facilitate action by the SGA to increase inclusivity. Keeffe said “we didn’t know the full extent of the issues facing [some] communities.” The Council is being created to help SGA be more effective at “resolving issues” and “creating a dialogue” between College officials and religious, ethnic and LGBT groups.
Graham is heading a project to bring a textbook exchange program to The College with the intent of making textbooks more affordable. SGA is also hoping to partner with local businesses, offering them free advertising in return for discounts for College of Charleston students.
Keeffe and Graham mentioned the importance of inclusivity on campus and that SGA will be facilitating communication between different groups, and between groups and College officials. According to Keeffe, the largest issue on campus is the “lack of communication” between students and College provided resources. A symptom of which is that many students are unaware of all of the resources at their disposal coming from The College. Student Government is planning to “facilitate that communication” next year, using its role as the “mouthpiece of the students.”
A transformation in SGA is due, which will broaden its social media platform make Senate discussion based and increase its presence in the media, in an effort to increase transparency, collaboration and student access.
The pair “wants to have a great relationship with the incoming President” and will establish it by forming a “give and take”- supporting both students and the President with their respective initiatives. Keeffe said that most upper level College officials will remain in their positions after McConnell’s retirement and that SGA already has great relationships with the officials who “are very passionate about improving student life and helping students however they can” who will hopefully be productive at establishing a good working relationship with the next President.
SGA is also positioning itself to lobby the city government more on issues facing the Charleston community.