In March, Trey Book was elected the new Student Government Association president.
The senior business marketing major from Henderson, Kentucky, is responsible for representing the students not only as SGA president, but also as student regent on the Board of Regents.
On Sept. 20, The News spoke with Book to discuss what he has accomplished as president and what his plans are for the rest of his term.
What does your role as SGA president look like?
“It’s busy. There is a lot of work, there are a lot of meetings and a lot of talking with individuals. Mainly, the core of what I do every day is try to enhance student life – whether that’s through student engagement, promoting events on campus, helping people, helping professors or helping the administration. I get an email almost every day asking me to come to this meeting or be on this committee or do other things; but, like I said, my main role is how can I help students, how can I be that representation for the student body.”
What are your goals and main priorities heading into this year?
“Student engagement is one of my main priorities, whether that’s just having events or helping promote events more because I think a really big issue that I have heard in the past and ever since I have been here is Murray is dead on the weekends. People go home on the weekends. So, I’m trying to revamp and re-energize what goes on in the Curris Center. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of stuff going on in the Curris Center right now with Chick-fil-A and Starbucks about to happen, and so far I feel we have done a good job with hosting events. One thing they used to do that Dr. Jackson told me about and is something I would really like to do is have a coffee shop event with musicians, singers or anyone who wants to come and could sing for an hour. This is just one small idea, but I think it would be neat, cool and interactive for students. On the topic of the Curris Center, the board approved a budget for a deferred maintenance and asset preservation fee of $11 million to do deferred maintenance with; and, depending on if the state legislation does a 1-1 or 2-1 match, we may end up with $33 million, $22 million or $11 million, but we will definitely get $11 million. Three million of the $11 million is going to the Curris Center this upcoming year. I want to make sure the Curris Center is used for student activities.”
How do you plan on implementing your goals?
“The biggest thing is collaboration. I have a lot of ideas and I have a lot of stuff that I want to do, but I can’t do it without my executive team, without Jeanie, Claudia, the senate, Residential College Association or Campus Activities Board. I’ve told my senators before – I like innovative people, I like people that are doers, that don’t sit on the sidelines and be told what to do. I like people that have a strong work ethic and drive. It’s not even just the collaboration with students; I have made and will continue to make and foster relationships with administration. Dr. Robertson is a huge asset. He knows anything about everything and he is such a huge, huge asset, and so is Dr. Jackson, as well as the different departments on campus.”
What can the students look forward to this year with you being president?
“I think one thing I am excited about is the money Dr. Jackson [and his team] have been able to help find and implement for new policies and deferred maintenance projects, because I don’t think people realize how important that and the asset preservation fee is and how great our campus is going to look because of it. Also, I’m really excited for different activities and the speaker we are bringing in November, it’s going to be huge. The speaker is nationally known and has been on television. We are hoping to bring another speaker in the spring. There are some concerts in the works with the CFSB as well.”
When campaigning for presidency, you emphasized a focus on students’ mental health. What are your plans to improve or highlight mental health on campus?
“I’m still trying to figure out how to go about this; whether it’s having a committee, who all needs to be involved, do we have a rise in mental health [issues] because people are more aware of the programs, events, and initiatives, or is it that students are a lot more stressed now than they were five, 10, 15 years ago? Once we figure out why students are stressed, then we can plan to improve mental health. I think right now we can just continue to help advertise and market the great initiatives and programs that we are already doing, like the counseling center.”
Enrollment has also been a consistent topic on people’s minds, as it is up right now. As SGA president, how do you plan to continue to enhance recruitment?
“Recruitment and enrollment – that is something I am passionate about, just because I was a summer orientation counselor for two years, a student ambassador and I work in the Office of Recruitment as a student worker. I think SGA in general can be a huge asset to the office because our number one best recruiters on campus, even though we have admissions counselors that we hire that do a fantastic job, are students. Specifically freshmen and sophomores, because they just graduated from high school and they could still be in contact with their guidance counselors. I think it would be a great idea if every senator got some sort of gift basket at the end of every semester to take home and give to their guidance counselors; it’s a Murray State gift basket. Yes, we need to be recruiting and talking to students, but the best help to recruit are guidance counselors and teachers. Those are the people I went to when deciding to go to college. Another part of recruitment is making sure there are things going on on campus. There are tours of campus every single day three times a day. Those tours can be one student or 12 students, and… if they go on campus and see students out on the main walk of “campus grilling” or whatever it may be, that is a huge selling point. Another thing I like to ask students to do is those visitors that come on campus are easily recognized because every single one of them has a gold Murray State bag and if you see someone with a gold Murray State bag just say ‘hey, welcome to Murray State, guys.’ That goes a long way. Murray as a city was ranked as one of the friendliest small towns in America. We really are, and our students, our faculty, our staff, [and] our community [are] very supportive and very friendly, and we just need to show people that.”
What are you most excited about this year?
“The year in general. I know it’s a weird answer but ever since Dr. Jackson was appointed interim, Murray State has shot up. We are moving in a good direction right now. We are having problems such as pension and deferred maintenance and other things, and we don’t do everything perfectly, but we do a lot of things perfect. Not to downplay those issues because those two issues are huge and they affect everyone on campus, including the greatest assets we have like professors, staff and faculty; but, we as a University are in a good spot right now. I just want to help continue that upward trajectory that we are going in right now. It makes me excited, more passionate and makes me want to get more stuff done.”
Do you have anything else you would like to communicate to the student body?
“SGA is going to continue to host events and do what we can for students, but I challenge other student organizations, other departments on campus, other student groups to host events too. If you need help and want to help, you can reach out to me, reach out to my executive team members, and we can see what we can do and see how we can collaborate. If you need help, if you have a complaint, if you feel like something needs to be done, if you want to do something, just reach out. Whether it’s me, an academic adviser, a professor, whoever it may be, just reach out and ask for help.”