Say hello to Kayland Morris, a nursing student embarking on her senior year at Cleveland State University. For Morris, a relaxed afternoon can include connecting with her friends, playing her guitar or hiking within the forest city that is Cleveland.
Let’s not forget to mention…she may also be preparing for a week of being the dedicated president of CSU’s Student Government Association (SGA), where she advocates for student concerns and promotes a welcoming environment for the student body across campus!
Morris is a powerful force who spends her evenings after school working on a hospital pediatrics floor. She has always had a desire to create change to better the world around her. For Morris, leadership has come naturally, and she does it well.
When asked what made her interested in student government and advocacy, she shared that she has partaken in student advocacy since middle school.
“That’s where it starts,” Morris said. “I was on the debate team in high school, leadership in robotics and was even the president of a special education club…it just went from there.”
All of Morris’s accomplishments have led her to this very moment, where she spends countless hours working to better CSU’s campus for students. For Morris, however, staying busy is not uncommon.
In high school, Morris was a nursing assistant for two years. Becoming a nurse was important to her after having watched a loved one go through a traumatic experience.
“My brother’s appendix burst when I was much younger… he was at Fairview Hospital’s pediatrics department for two weeks and it was scary,” Morris said. “That made me really interested in nursing.”
Morris had an epiphany and was inspired to become a pediatric nurse due to her brother’s experience. She currently works at Fairview Hospital, and, get this: on the exact same pediatrics unit that her brother stayed in when they were younger. Some may say this is fate.
Morris plans to get a permanent job there after she graduates from CSU.
Morris Takes on Conflict
Morris admitted that she faces challenges regularly as SGA’s president.
“Dealing with conflict is difficult… it’s important to remember to look at both sides, and realize where people are at,” Morris shared with The Cauldron. “Miscommunication can be the biggest source of conflict.”
While conflict can be overwhelming and intimidating for some, Morris and her team tackle conflict head-on with ambition.
Morris plans to improve CSU and remove barriers across the board by putting together more SGA events featuring merchandise giveaways and refreshments. She also shared that the SGA team intends to leave the door to their office, Student Center 217, open regularly, so that students can feel welcome to come in, engage and share concerns.
To highlight some of Morris’ direct goals, Morris is looking to partner with CSU parking to generate more affordable options for students, as well as lower book costs. She is also currently speaking with the university regarding the RTA contract, which charges all students for the U-Pass regardless of whether or not they intend to use it.
Morris also discussed dining at CSU, which has undergone big changes recently. Last semester, as an SGA staff member, Morris worked to better those changes alongside her team by creating a dining hall resolution with the chief financial officer and vice president of hospitality on campus. The resolution, which passed in April, sought meal waivers for students with allergies and meal restrictions due to religious and dietary needs.
“It is not where it should be, but it’s making progress and I am happy with that,” said Morris.
This year, CSU has expanded their dining hall to more than double their seating capacity, which is only available within the turnstiles. This change has made it impossible for students who do not wish to pay for dining services to have a seat in their downtime.
To help with this issue, Morris has come up with a plan to revamp the commuter lounge on the third floor of the student center to create more available seating for students.
Morris also addressed Senate Bill 83, also known as the Higher Education Enhancement Act, which continues to be an issue on SGA’s agenda.
This past year, SGA released a resolution through the public policy committee in opposition to S.B. 83. SGA was in contact with several universities and colleges, including Ohio State and Bowling Green State. Collectively, the colleges signed a document through SGA and brought it to the Ohio State Senate to advocate against the bill.
Morris added that her team is currently making changes to the resolution, with the hopes of getting it through a second time.
The Power of the Student Body’s Voice
Morris’s efforts as SGA president thus far have mainly involved supporting students in residence life across campus. Students continue to provide feedback to SGA about the many challenges they are facing in on-campus housing.
“The Edge has had some issues with pipes bursting, leaving carpets with odors,” she said. Other problems inc gate doors being left open and unattended, and mail being difficult to retrieve. Morris believes there is a great need for improvement.
Morris has a deep connection with her peers. She shared that it is vital for students to have a support system to help them with classes, books, scholarships and other college essentials.
“My family and friends are my biggest support… without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I am not just going through this alone.”
On campus, CSU’s TRIO/Student Support Services (TRIO/SSS) program offers support for students. It is there to help empower students who receive the Pell Grant or are first-generation college students in their families.
“I have friends who are success coaches through TRIO, and I have heard amazing stories.”
As SGA President, Morris is always communicating with Student Life executives to sort out student concerns, but she reminds students that they, too, have an opportunity to be advocates for change themselves.
“Faculty Senate is looking for student representatives on the committee of Student Life…” Morris shared. “The more students on the committee, the more voting power and change students will have.”
There are many opportunities for students to be involved. Morris shares that CSU students can be members of the SGA committees without directly being SGA affiliates.
“The best part about SGA is the connections you’re able to build,” Morris highlighted.
Learn more about student leadership opportunities here.