Incoming SGA Senate speaker hopes to advocate for LGBTQ+ students

Elisa Reamer, Reporter

DeKALB Dallas Douglass, junior anthropology and women, gender and sexuality studies major, wants to fulfill his Speaker of the Senate position in SGA by serving the LGBTQ+ community on campus and changing the current roles held by certain positions in SGA.

Douglass joined SGA in Fall 2019 because of a recommendation by a friend who thought he would be the perfect candidate for a senator position.

“There are a lot of old buildings on campus; the infrastructure just generally tends to be outdated,” Douglass said. “I wanted to know more about who made those decisions about where funding goes for that kind of thing and how as students, we can help improve our own quality of life.”

Douglass began as a senator and has moved up in positions since then. He became the Chairperson for Environmental Affairs in Spring 2020, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so nothing was happening around campus. He then got the role of Deputy Speaker in September 2020. Douglass remained in this role until he was elected Speaker of the Senate.

Being a part of SGA will help him serve underserved student populations. In his case, the LGBTQ+ community, Douglass said.

“I serve the LGBTQ plus community so I have a direct connection to the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center,” Douglass said. “It’s expected of me and the other representative who’s doing the same, Harvey Green, that we be in communication with the directors of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and members of our community and actively representing their interests.”

Douglass’ primary goal is to make people more aware of SGA’s role on campus. Douglass wants students to know anyone can join the SGA meetings and their input and be more involved.

“One of my goals is to try to get senators to think more about policy than direct engagement and to try to get executives to think more about direct engagement than anything else,” Douglass said.

Douglass also said he wants to try to change the Supreme Court’s role to give them more responsibility since they don’t do very much unless needed currently. The Supreme Court approves choices made by the other SGA branches, Executive and Legislative and also appeal decisions.

At SGA’s Senate meeting Sunday, Douglass wrote legislation that would change the duties of the Supreme Court and is waiting for that to be passed.

Douglass encourages students to get involved because it will have a lasting impact on them and their community by caring enough to volunteer their time. It makes it easier when students have a direct connection with a certain community, Douglass said.

“I think in many ways the pandemic is going to be kind of an advantage,” Douglass said. “We’re going to get people coming onto campus – sophomores and freshmen – who have no college experience but are so tired of sitting around all day and eager to get their hands in the dirt and get something done.”

Douglass has been involved on campus since he was a first-year student. Douglass has been the speaker bureau of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which is an invite-only panel of LGBT students since he started in Fall 2017.

During Douglass’ time living in New Hall, he was a part of the Residence Hall Association, which is the governing body of residence halls. Douglass has been an English tutor for first-year CHANCE students since Fall 2019.

The speaker’s purpose is to be the voice of the Senate.

“It is [the Senate’s] role to create the agenda, to run the meetings, to be kind of a guiding force for Senators if they need it,” Douglass said. “And to be knowledgeable about all of our governing documents, our bylaws and constitution and to employ those policies, as well as to communicate with university administration.”