TSG leaders reflect on their impact, initiatives

The administration created more than two dozen initiatives during its time.

Paige Hill (left), Tyrell Mann-Barnes (center) and Kayla Martin inducted IgniteTU as the new administration on April 30. | SHEFA ASHAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The ActivateTU administration stepped down from Temple Student Government to induct IgniteTU on April 30 at the final General Assembly meeting of the year.

Since its induction in May 2017, ActivateTU delivered on at least 28 of its 36 platform points. These programs included topics like community engagement, sexual assault resources, sustainability, campus safety, diversity and student life.

Some of ActivateTU’s on-campus achievements include advocating for all-gender restrooms, creating Sexual Assault Prevention Week, holding four live feedback forums with university leaders and hosting the Peer-Mentorship Program.

Kayla Martin, the exiting vice president of services, said working with Paul L. Dunbar School students to create their first student government this semester was one of her favorite initiatives.

“It was really rewarding to work with those students,” Martin said. “We had an actual impact on them, and we set a precedent for a mentorship that will continue with future administrations.”

Externally, ActivateTU also hosted three community forums, started a high school mentorship program, collaborated with other student organizations on the recently opened Cherry Pantry and hosted block clean-ups.

Exiting Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes said he appreciated working on Sexual Assault Prevention Week because it showed him the power TSG has to make change indirectly.

“It showed that when student government takes an active role in combating an issue, students will get on board,” Mann-Barnes said. “Now, we’ve seen a lot of other organizations come out of the woodwork to support this issue.”

ActivateTU also reformed TSG by creating an Ethics Board and a director of student health and wellbeing position. The group also reformed Parliament by creating a communications director position and giving more responsibility to the role of Speaker.

Martin said she believes ActivateTU worked with integrity. She is proud that the group was able to accomplish so many of its goals.

“Once you’re elected, it can be hard with all the new pressure to stay true to the platforms you campaigned with,” Martin added. “I think we did really well with that. The team you see right now is the same team that was elected last April.”

The team’s leaders said they have grown personally from their experiences with TSG.

Paige Hill, the exiting vice president of external affairs, said community forums and speaking for community members at meetings with administrators has taught her the importance of listening.

“Learning how to relay a voice without misrepresenting it in any way and taking those ideas and advocating for them in a concrete way to students and administrators is really important,” Hill said. “You don’t want to hijack someone else’s message.”

Martin and Mann-Barnes said being inclusive and representative of the diversity at Temple was something they understood better after being in office.

“You really learn how to make things that affect 40,000 students,” Martin said. “I learned how to listen to people with different opinions than me and bridge that gap to make sure we all work toward a common goal.”

“We have so much responsibility to make spaces representative of the body we represent,” Mann-Barnes added. “We hope we have created an inclusive environment that spreads to the entire campus.”

Mann-Barnes, Martin and Hill are finished with TSG, but they have big plans moving forward.

Hill is graduating, and plans to stay in Philadelphia and get involved with local government while pursuing a Ph.D. in political science. She wants to continue her research on the representation of women in developing democracies.

Martin, who is also graduating, will begin earning her law degree at the Beasley School of Law next year. Martin hopes to go into employment and civil rights law.

Mann-Barnes will enter his final year of undergraduate studies this fall, and after graduating, he hopes to begin medical school.

“Last year, ActivateTU really started a movement,” Mann-Barnes said. “People from a multitude of backgrounds were excited to get involved. I hope that moving forward, TSG continues to be representative and inclusive of all students.”

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