Next SGA president elected: Antonio Johnson

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Courtesy Antonio Johnson

Kierra Frazier, Senior Reporter

DeKALB — Antonio Johnson first joined the Student Government Association in 2017 as a senator to help students on campus and make a difference in the NIU community. Today, Johnson still hopes to carry out these aspirations as SGA president for the 52nd session.

“As the president-elect, I didn’t always know this is where I wanted to go,” Johnson said. “When I first got to NIU, it took me probably a year to figure out that this was my goal and I wanted to become president one day.”

Johnson is a junior sociology major and will take office on May 15 as SGA president succeeding Naomi Bolden, senior political science major.

Johnson ran for SGA president in the spring 2020 online elections uncontested. The president is in charge of directing programs for SGA while also appointing justices in the judicial branch, determining the SGA budget and more, according to the SGA constitution.

Johnson plans on prioritizing student involvement within SGA by getting the word out about who SGA is and what they do. Johnson said he hopes he can help SGA better brand themselves to students while also reaching out to first-year students to get them involved.

“With everything being virtual, that’s one of my biggest goals is to help with student engagement,” Jonhson said. “We have to keep moving forward, especially reaching out to different freshmen and letting them know what type of organizations we have on campus for them to get involved since they probably won’t have a traditional orientation.”

Johnson said he plans on sending out a survey to students when he takes office to see how SGA can better serve the NIU community and what the association can improve on.

After joining the SGA Senate in 2017 as a Senator, Johnson became the sergeant-at-arms as a first-year student and later chairperson of public affairs in his sophomore year. Also in his sophomore year, Johnson was the assistant to former SGA President Khiree Cross and for the past year, Johnson has served as the chief of staff.

“Once I got into the Senate, it took off from there and it was just great,” Johnson said. “I started speaking out a little bit more and I started getting my ideas out there and SGA has helped me become more vocal.”

Johnson said his prior experience within SGA has helped him communicate with students better while learning how to better respond to students’ needs.

“When people come to you about their goals and dreams and aspirations while in college, I feel that you need someone that’s willing to listen,” Johnson said. “When I first joined SGA, I felt like it was all political, but then I had to learn how to put the politics aside and how to be a person that could hear, and not just act.”

As president, Johnson hopes to speak to different organizations on campus to see what their biggest concerns are so everyone’s voices are heard, he said.

More specifically, Johnson wants to keep advocating for undocumented students at the state level, help improve campus conditions for students with disabilities and listen to the needs of minority students.

“I have spoken to students with disabilities on campus who have said they’re often late to class because they struggle with the stairs or elevator and that kind of hit me because I feel like students with disabilities shouldn’t be treated that way,” he said.

Johnson has selected Devlin Collins, sophomore nonprofit studies major, as chief of staff for the 52nd session. Johnson said he plans on working alongside Collins to help encourage more students to participate in SGA elections, assist students who’ve been affected by COVID-19 and work on SGA branding.

“We look forward to working with our staff to create a student government that invites new students to provide their input and is efficient in advocating for higher education and greater resources for our students,” Johnson said.