By Kaye Burnet | The Duquesne Duke
His friends and fans call him “Obama.”
According to Duquesne junior John Foster, the nickname comes from his smooth speaking style and the fact that he will soon become president over the 44th Duquesne University Student Government Association Executive Board.
Foster said that under his leadership the SGA will focus on changes to the Duquesne smartphone app, the creation of a possible student book loan program and improvements to popular campus events such as the Night of Lights and homecoming celebrations.
Foster also plans to strengthen ties between the SGA, the Residence Hall Association and the Duquesne Program Council, and to re-examine the focus and purpose of SGA.
“I think too often SGA can have the image of being very self-serving,” Foster said. “And that’s not our purpose and that’s not who we are as an organization. It’s ‘How can we give back to the students.’”
Foster, an international relations and history major, currently serves as an SGA senator and the executive vice president of the RHA.
One of Foster’s more controversial campaign ideas is the creation of a textbook loan library. Foster intends to “trim the fat” from the SGA’s $82,000 annual budget to buy textbooks for students who cannot afford them. According to Foster, some of the money can come from the $3,000 budget for the Student Organization Resource Center, where representatives from registered campus organizations can use computers, printers and arts and crafts supplies.
Foster intends to base the loan library off an already-existing Office of Multicultural Affairs program, where students can currently donate or borrow used textbooks.
“It’s not ‘SGA is going to buy books for everyone,’ that’s not what we’re trying to preach,” Foster said. “It’s more of a need-based thing.”
Under Foster’s proposed program, students who approach the SGA, fill out applications and demonstrate financial need can borrow a book purchased by the SGA. Book purchases would occur on an as-needed basis, Foster said.
Rachel Willis, a freshman, was elected RHA president and said she looks forward to working with Foster, whom she calls “an honorable man.”
Willis anticipates greater partnership between the RHA and the SGA next year, especially in making homecoming “a bigger, livelier event that more students are excited about.”
Foster has already begun meeting with people from Computers and Technology Services about adding features to Duquesne U, a smartphone app downloadable for free. The app currently allows students to check grades, schedules, University news and social media, and a campus map. Foster said it can be used to increase student awareness of public events on campus.
“You ask yourself, ‘I wonder how much money is being wasted on events because people are just unaware of them?’” Foster said.
Foster said organizations could add their activities and programs to the app schedule, and students would be able to view every activity happening on campus throughout the day. According to Foster, CTS was open to the idea, which could be implemented over the summer and become available next fall.
Foster will oversee a split board, with Nicholas Hudak, vice president-elect of finance, and Angela-Jean Palchowski, vice president-elect of student life, representing Foster’s own United Party. Vice President-elect of Academic Affairs Zachary Galloway and Vice President-elect of Communication Ektaa Rana represent the opposition Spirit Party.
The United Party campaigned on a platform of communication and partnership, dining and residence life, Greek life and initiatives.
“While we still have our platform that we would like to achieve, we will be working collectively with the Spirit Party,” Foster said.
Following Mass at the University chapel, Foster and newly elected SGA, RHA and Commuter Council members will officially take office Sunday.