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Georgia Gwinnett College forms student government association

LAWRENCEVILLE - Student officers of Georgia Gwinnett College's Student Government Association on Wednesday presented its inaugural constitution to the college's vice president of academic and student affairs.

Stas Preczewski, SGA President William Johnson and Senate Chairman David Horton signed three copies of the document, formally recognizing the establishment of the student organization.

"This event signifies the true beginning of SGA at Georgia Gwinnett College," said Thomas Hancock, a psychology professor and faculty adviser to the SGA. "They are truly an amazing group of students. I've had the privilege of watching them discuss and resolve some complicated issues ... (and) now they will have the opportunity to further dedicate their energy toward the needs of our students."

Johnson said the association's founding members looked at constitutions from colleges throughout the country, including some that were hundreds of pages long.

"That wasn't a pattern we wanted to follow," Johnson said. "We didn't want it to be filled with red tape."

That attitude is important to Georgia Gwinnett College, which does not want to turn into a bureaucracy, Preczewski said. The college wants to have a culture of change and continuous improvement and be a place where "resistance to change is abnormal and change is the norm," he said.

Although the students consulted existing documents, Vice President Chad Miller said most of the ideas used to write the constitution were original.

"I'd say 90 percent, if not 99 percent, of the ideas came out of our own minds - minds that are set in the 21st century - like this college is set in the 21st century," he said.

Students decided to form the association in the college's opening year. Secretary Andrea Ide said she approached administration after hearing another student mention the idea during orientation.

"It has to be in place," she said. "There has to be a way for students to communicate with the college. It can be difficult for a student to walk up (and voice opinions to administrators). ... It is just so important to have that (process) in place for students."

Since its creation, the student government has been instrumental in bringing new dining services to campus and keeping greenspace in the master plan.

Some issues - complaints about parking, the cost of books and food service - are universal, Johnson said. But Preczewski said the group has worked to address these concerns.

One issue is distinct to Georgia Gwinnett students: the college's accreditation status. Miller said SGA members have talked to students about the process.

"We're well on our way to accreditation," Miller said. "The level of worriness has dropped dramatically."

The SGA will have elections this month and expects to have about 20 members this year. That number will grow as the college's enrollment increases.

Other founding members of the SGA include Treasurer Rico Torres, Senate Secretary Cliff Speagle and LaCretia Williams, a student member of the formation committee.