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A Voice of the Students - Spring 2021

by Aubrie Bowlan

Student Government Association President Reid Powell wearing suit and tie
Photo by Josh Robinson

Students come to Oklahoma City University from all over the world for a variety of reasons — small class sizes, accredited degree programs, exceptional educators. For Student Government Association President Reid Powell, all it took was a campus tour.

“The second I stepped on OCU’s campus, I knew that this would be my home for the next four years,” he said.

The Norman North High School graduate came to the university undecided of his career plans but found a love for politics in his freshman Governance in America course with Dr. Mohamed Daadaoui, who convinced Powell to major in political science with an emphasis in pre-law studies. Through his new area of study, Powell has learned about, and quickly fallen in love with, student government.

“In my first year, I learned how much the university valued the voice of students and that the recommendations presented by SGA were something that were taken seriously by administrators at OCU,” Powell said. “I immediately knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of.”

The Student Government Association works to bridge the gap between students and OCU administration. These campus leaders advocate for their peers by participating in meetings, drafting legislation, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.

After representing the Social Sciences district in the SGA Senate, Powell was elected vice president in April 2020. The following November, Powell assumed the role of SGA president after internal transitions altered the organization’s cabinet. This didn’t just affect his junior year — it changed his whole OCU experience.

“Throughout my time in SGA, I have had the opportunity to connect and learn from various leaders both at OCU and the greater OKC community,” he said. “These have become invaluable relationships that have helped shape me into the leader I hope to become one day.”

Four photos of young man with different hand gestures
Photos by Josh Robinson

Of course, Powell had no idea he would be celebrating his election amid a pandemic. In a time described in every newspaper article and email as “unprecedented,” the SGA president role is no exception. The student leaders would typically table on campus, host programming events and discussion forums, meet for teambuilding activities, and get to know their peers face to face.

“We’re all trying to figure out what it means to be an organization that doesn’t have its usual sense of community,” Powell said. “There isn’t a handbook on how to serve as president during a pandemic. The best we can do is make sure everyone is still heard, even over computer speakers, and that everyone still feels valued and engaged.”

One of the few highlights of the COVID-19 era that Powell says shaped his time on campus has been a more open dialogue regarding college students’ mental health. As the stigma surrounding the discussion lessens, “we’ve learned that it’s OK to talk about mental health on campus and how it affects all of us,” he said. During his presidency, SGA has implemented “Let’s Talk About It” Tuesdays on social media to bring awareness to these challenges.

Powell hopes his legacy as SGA president is remembered as one of strong advocacy. He has championed gender-inclusive campus housing, recognition of community leaders such as Clara Luper, and student involvement on campus. Powell recently learned his campaign for re-election is unopposed and hopes to continue his advocacy in the 2021–22 school year.

If just one person has a better student experience at OCU because of the work SGA has done during his time as president, it will have been worth it, Powell said.

No matter where law school and his future career in public service take him, Powell said Oklahoma City and the university will always hold a special place in his heart.

“Serving in this role has allowed me to meet and interact with students, faculty, and staff across campus whom I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise,” Powell said. “We have such a vibrant campus community, and it is amazing to see people from across the world be able to come together at a small school in Oklahoma City. Student growth is valued and supported by OCU staff, faculty, and administrators, and I will always be thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here.”

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