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Student Government Association: Results and Expectations

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The Student Government Association (SGA) had their executive officer elections during the week prior to Thanksgiving. 18 students ran for the 4 available positions of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. This year had some of the closest races the campus’ history, with one of the races ending in a 3 vote difference.

So what does this new SGA administration inherit? What exactly does the SGA do? They probably don’t do as much as you might think.

I got the chance to have a conversation with Raynor Sebring ’15, the current Senator from the History department and member of the Academic Advancement Committee, and ask him some questions regarding how the current SGA administration operates.

The SGA meets fortnightly, or once every 2 weeks, to approve: new organizations, new organizations’ budgets and act “as representatives of the student body to the faculty.”

Because of the SGA’s infrequent meetings, and the span of time it takes to approve new clubs, approximately 2 of the associations 6 meetings this semester were spent approving clubs and nothing else.

I asked Raynor what happens during meetings that don’t revolve around club approval. He said, “For a regular meeting, we should take care of business that concerns the Senate. If our committees were more active, we might actually debate or approve something that they would bring before us. However, the committees do not really have to report on anything.”

In short, the SGA doesn’t really do much more than approve organizations and their budgets. I suppose they have the potential to rule on other matters, but nothing is ever brought before them. Why?

I asked Raynor, and he said, “The problem, in some of our opinions, is that the Senators are not held accountable to do anything for their constituents and therefore do not do anything.”

Senators are never required to talk to the people who elect them, and therefore have no real power. Raynor didn’t have any specific ideas, but it’s certainly something that can be worked on as a committee.

Imagine a campus where the SGA had an impact on things like Academic Integrity rules, INQ class approval or ideas for new, small, structures on campus.

So this is what I ask, new SGA Administration, expand. Expand your presence on campus. Become accountable to the people who vote for you. Obtain that accountability; through communication with faculty and students alike, through debates within your organization and committee chairs and with initiative.

Make your time as an SGA officer about improving SGA as an organization and work to advance this college. Keep the interests of students and faculty in the forefront of your mind. Gain respect, and that respect will empower the SGA to make decisions that affect more than just other clubs.