Looking back over the past year, Student Government has experienced its share of memorable moments.
The spring 2013 election ended in victory for Woodard and his vice-presidential running mate Taylor Parks — only after multiple court hearings and two separate rounds of voting.
A scar still remains on SG’s reputation after a fair amount of poor public relations handling, but Woodard views the election in a more positive light.
“In a lot of ways, [the election] is kind of a blessing in disguise,” Woodard said. “I think we all learned a great deal about the importance of changing the organization now because of what happened. It lit a fire in a lot of people’s bellies. We’ve got a real big opportunity.”
While the difficult election process may make the road to success more challenging for the new SG president, Woodard intends to take the election results for whatever they’re worth.
“Maybe initially it might be a little bit harder, but I think that whole circumstance gave us an opportunity to really step up and make a big difference,” he said. “It’s an opportunity that never would have existed if it hadn’t been for the way the election turned out.”
Woodard said there are a number of initiatives SG wants to accomplish during his time in office. Highlighted by a campaign to increase transparency with the student body, the organization has its sights set on becoming a more prominent force in the lives of everyone who walks through campus.
The campaign starts at the top with Woodard.
“For the students, it’s about regaining that trust through proving it to them and showing them that we are here and we are visible,” Woodard said. “[SG comprises] regular students, too. We’re here to be your friend. We’re not very hard to talk to, and I think that’s been a problem in the past. We haven’t done a good enough job of growing and maintaining those relationships.”
Woodard, who noted that social media played a key part in his victory this spring, said he intends to take to the web in an effort to rebrand SG. Besides a new logo and updated contacts on the organization’s website, SG plans on becoming more active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to appear more personable to students.
The contact information for SG members will be available on the organization’s site, and Woodard encourages students to reach out to any SG member at any time.
“I think we haven’t been utilized and we haven’t made ourselves accessible enough in the past,” Woodard said. “Our big thing is that we want [students] to be able to come into our office and talk to us at any time. I want any student to be able to text me or call me and say, ‘Hey John, I’ve got this problem. Can you point me in the right direction?’”
Among the big plans, though, is the upcoming upgrade to the UREC. Woodard said the University intends to pump millions of dollars into a new UREC that should rank highly among other Southeastern Conference schools.
SG is currently working with the University on a number of other projects, such as a renegotiated bus contract, better library space and an effort to create a 24-hour study space — though none are currently guaranteed.
Even with the negative PR, a shaky election and a difficult road to success, Woodard said he wants to be able to look back on his term in office and see how his staff changed the organization for the better.
“I’d hope that I changed the perception of Student Government,” Woodard said. “I know that if we set the bar straight now and get the ball rolling, they’ll look back and say that this administration changed the way people look at SG.”