SA president Scott Strenger talks about noteworthy endeavors of the student body during the State of the SA address on March 25. Courtesy of Kirsten Williamson, Contributing Photographer

On Friday, Mar. 25, students convened at the May Room in Wilson Commons to listen to junior and Students’ Association President Scott Strenger give the annual State of the SA address. In keeping with the 28-year tradition, Strenger was set to address his audience regarding the current accomplishments of the SA, the problems it faced and possible improvements.
The afternoon kicked off with a performance by Mariachi Meliora, followed by UR President Joel Seligman’s opening speech, which poked good-natured fun at the SA Government Annual Report.
“Like all world-class annual reports, it has a pie chart, and it’s inspiring,” Seligman said. He then congratulated everyone involved in the governance of SA on the fruitful year they’ve had.
The mood turned nostalgic as senior and SA Vice President Ashley Haluck-Kangas recalled the moment Strenger had asked her to run alongside him for office. Coming towards the end of their term, both Strenger and Haluck-Kangas took the opportunity to reflect on their experience as leaders of the student body.
“I have learned a lot and I have met many people, but what has been most rewarding was to have the opportunity to give back to the University,” Haluck-Kangas said.
Delving into the focus of the afternoon, Strenger first touched on the subject of student organizations and what can be done to improve the University’s technological infrastructure. With 80 percent of students involved in at least one organization at the University, more cooperation on this front could greatly improve efficiency.
“Many of us were attracted [to UR] by the openness of the curriculum and the freedom to develop our own intellectual pursuits. This has its negatives, [such as] indecisiveness and bureaucracy,” Strenger said.
Recognizing the need to better manage the school’s resources, the SA has been working with Wilson Common Activities on developing new staff positions that will maintain student websites and application forms.
One problem raised in the address was the issue of sustainability, a concept which is frequently used often but often not completely understood. Strenger described it to be the act of using the environment without jeopardizing it in the long run. He also pointed out the University’s efforts at sustainability, such as the student-started initiative UR Micro-Farm, as well as the many opportunities to fund similar projects in the future.
Strenger also used his speech to pay homage to the competitive successes of UR students in various fields at the national level. Solar Splash won three awards in their first competition.  The Mock Trial team has won more awards than other schools in the region and UR Bhangra travelled to Vancouver for the Josh Bhangre Da competition. The YellowJackets won the Grammys’ equivalent for a capella as the Best A Capella Group of the Year.
“We all bleed yellow and blue,” Strenger proclaimed as he threw out UR-colored bracelets to the audience, drawing laughter from the crowd.
One issue that seemed inevitable in this year’s speech was that of diversity on campus, implicated by the murder of  Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. in January. Strenger observed a moment of silence for the loss of Bordeaux and junior Daren Venable, who is being charged for the murder, from the University community.
“While we appear to be an inclusive community, we choose passive tolerance instead of understanding those different from ourselves,” Strenger said.
Strenger also urged for a development of a center for intercultural and diversity affairs, which would also support students coming from different places and bring forth cultures currently underrepresented on campus. He then commended the groups on campus for promoting diversity, notably UR Genocide Intervention, SALSA and Pride Network, and called for the Greek organizations to do the same.
At the end of his speech, Strenger concluded the state of the SA as “extraordinary.”  Finishing off the afternoon were the live performances by various performance ensembles — with the addition of Vice President Paul Burgett for this special occasion.
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the class of 2014.

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