Every student running for a Student Government Association position in Spring 2016 will be doing so unopposed.
Ellie Diaz, political science junior, will become the next SGA president with her running mate Gabrielle Henry becoming vice president.
The Senate will be occupied by fourteen students, ten of whom will represent the new College of Arts and Sciences. The remainder will be composed of two from the College of Business, along with two other Senators-at-Large that represent the entire student body. The College of Music and Fine Arts, which has 689 students, will have no senators after no one applied for the position.
Bud Sheppard, SGA chief justice, was hoping for more participation in this year’s election.
“Personally, I wanted there to be a more robust and competitive election process,” Sheppard said. “However, I think we should all look at this from another lens though—last year we had seven total students running for positions. Two for SGA President, two for SGA Vice President, and three for Senate. This year we have a united SGA President and Vice President running with fourteen senators.”
This year’s election is also the first to feature a ticket system, where the president is required to choose a running mate. Diaz, the only student who chose to run for president, believes that this change was a key cause in the lack of presidential candidates.
“I think the reason that I’m unopposed is because that was just thrown into the elections code,” Diaz said. “Their reasoning behind the ticket makes sense, but there’s things that could work that are approached in bad ways. A ticket essentially could have worked if they would’ve mentioned it earlier.”
Despite the fact that she will not face competition in the election, Diaz continues to actively campaign for SGA president, and views the sudden move to a ticket-based election as just one instance of the serious institutional dysfunction that plagues SGA.
“There’s such a distrust between the student body and the SGA,” Diaz said. “I didn’t see anyone in my class trying to make any kind of difference about it, so I thought to myself maybe I should become the liaison between the student body and the changes we want to see in the SGA because, essentially, we are supposed to be a student-driven organization and I don’t think that’s something that’s been happening lately.”
Max Heimburger, political science sophomore that will represent the College of Arts and Sciences in the Senate, feels that SGA has very little credibility among students.
“I think SGA has failed the students. I want to be in SGA to re-establish the mission of SGA, so that it is fighting for student interest here on campus,” Heimburger said. “I hope to make the legislative body a credible organization. It has failed at its job to defend the rights and interests of students. I want SGA, specifically the legislative branch, to be an organization students trust to reach out to when change is needed.”
Diaz believes that making SGA more transparent and raising student involvement will help to bridge what she sees as the current gap of trust between SGA and the student body.
“People who are in leadership can’t expect somebody to know how to do something or be educated about something if you’re not going to be willing to educate them,” Diaz said. “You can’t just walk around and say ‘oh hey, we’re doing this event, here’s this poster’ because there’s a difference between just doing that and talking to somebody about the reasoning behind it.”
Also included on the ballot will be three constitutional amendments–one to eliminate the college president position, one to add the first-year council as an executive standing committee and one seeking to eliminate the commissioner of elections position. In order to be passed, each amendment must be supported by a majority of the student electorate.
A question and answer session will be held for candidates in Miller 114 during the window on April 5. SGA elections take place on OrgSync between April 6 and 7. The results will be announced in the “fish bowl,” the courtyard in the middle of the Danna Center, at 3:30 p.m. on April 8.