By Kelly Mileur, Guest Writer
Sitting behind his desk in the Student Government Association (SGA) office is Sean Burkett, senior, criminology and criminal justice. Burkett won the 2017 SGA president election. While it is difficult to get a lot accomplished as president in only one year, Burkett is particularly proud of the role he and the other SGA members played creating a safer campus.
Burkett grew up in Michigan. He began his studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2014. He was drawn into the programs of criminology and psychology that were offered by UMSL. This motivated him to pursue his aspirations of a career in law enforcement. This ambition allowed him to move away from home and become more independent.
Burkett had little knowledge of SGA. His sophomore year he connected with the president and vice president of the organization while a resident assistant at Oak Hall.
“I never really showed much interest in SGA but then I joked around one day that maybe I would run for comptroller,” Burkett said.
His friends encouraged him to run for the position with the promise of their backing. Burkett ran and was elected as comptroller. After the appointment, Burkett realized he wanted to aspire to be more.
“Not even a month into that job, I knew I wanted to be president of SGA,” Burkett said. “I knew that I wanted to do something more than budgets, I wanted to actually really make a difference on this campus.”
After his first year in SGA, Burkett began a campaign to get himself elected as president of SGA. President Burkett is active on the Chancellors Board, the Chancellors Council, and meets with administration regularly to advocate for the students of UMSL.
The Campus Safe Walk originally started in 2008, it consists of groups of students, faculty, staff, and administrators walking the campus to determine safety concerns. Burkett is leading the walk to now allow a group to study the university’s portion of the MetroLink, a previously overlooked location.
Burkett turned in a twenty-two-page assessment of safety concerns spanning the entire campus. He is happy to see how quickly the administration is addressing some of the issues. The concerns involving the MetroLink will require the collaboration of multiple organizations, which will take time.
He explains, “It is something that I believe will need to be continually brought up so that the conversation is still there, and it’s definitely something that I want the future SGA to look into.”
Burkett does not take his position lightly. The SGA constitution requires ten hours of office and/or meeting time per week, Burkett nearly doubles that. Daily meetings with various faculty, students, and campus organizations alone make up half of his time. Burkett receives more than 40 emails a day from students and makes it a point to respond to every email promptly. The massive time consumption of being the president still allows him to manage his studies and social life.
Burkett is graduating May 2019 and the position of president of SGA will be open for a new student leader.
Burkett’s biggest agenda is pushing for a safer campus for students during his presidency. He is pushing for a safer community for all and plans to join the St. Louis County Police Academy this June.
Regarding the role and rewards of being president of SGA, Burkett had this to say:
“You really have to be selfless to have this job because you’re the voice for 17,000 students. If I can advocate for students and if I have at least made one day better for one student, that’s all I need and that is my reward.”