Some of the members of the WSGA at a recent meeting. From left: Junelle Empleo, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Eric Boll, Anna Maria College; Kevin Finkelstein, Becker College; Rian Watt, Clark University; Phill Blake, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and Neema Hakim, College of the Holy Cross.
This past summer, Neema Hakim ’14, co-president of the Student Government Association at the College of the Holy Cross, identified a need for a unified voice from the student population in the City of Worcester. Hakim identified his counterparts at other Worcester colleges, and through a series of meetings and conversations together the Worcester Student Government Association (WSGA) was created.
With more than 35,000 students between 10 colleges and universities, the mission of the WSGA is to discover the interests of “the student” who exists across all college campuses in Worcester; advocate collective student interests to the City, its officials, businesses, and organizations; and facilitate idea sharing between campus student governments. The WSGA is sponsored by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, with whom they signed a memorandum of understanding in September.
“Our goal is to build bridges and get students engaged in the Worcester community,” says Hakim, president and one of four co-founders of the WSGA. “There seems to me to be a disconnect between each of the Worcester campuses, as well as the collective Worcester student body and the City of Worcester. By having a WSGA, we have a forum by which student leaders from all over Worcester can come together to share ideas.”
The WSGA has created a space for students to discuss best practices from their own campuses, and to promote joint community engagement through the endorsement of service projects. Each month, student government representatives from the various colleges come to WSGA meetings to discuss issues pertaining to Worcester students. In addition to meeting with one another, students have met with WOO Card, Students Helping Children Across Borders (SHCAB), and city officials to discuss economic development and voter registration.
In January, the WSGA will co-host a “Mr. Worcester” pageant with SHCAB to raise funds for the spring Working for Worcester event. Students from across the colleges will compete for the title of “Mr. Worcester,” building community among students while raising awareness about Working for Worcester, a city-wide, student-run project designed to promote city pride and provide necessary improvements to Worcester’s recreational spaces. The pageant will be held on January 24 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Coral Seafood on Shrewsbury Street.
Members of the WSGA include delegates from Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Becker College, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Quinsigamond Community College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.