SGA addresses problems with upperclassmen Senate elections

Jake Hawkins

Managing Editor

Next year’s Student Government Association is all set with 26 upperclassmen senators, but not without a few hiccups in the process.

Candidate for graduation and SGA President Josh Edge for the 2011-12 academic year, who oversaw the elections, originally contacted 27 students congratulating them on being nominated to the organization.

“It wasn’t a problem at first,” said rising senior and newly elected SGA President Charli Fant, “because one person immediately dropped senate.”

However, a problem soon became apparent when Fant and other newly-elected SGA officers realized that one of the remaining 26 senators who were sworn in received fewer votes than rising junior Sydney Katz, who wasn’t sworn in.

“We don’t have protocol for this,” said Fant, who then explained that the student without enough votes willfully stepped down to allow Katz to be sworn in.

“I think we handled it appropriately,” said Fant.

The mistake was described as an oversight and Fant said that next year’s election will require more careful eyes to check names before anyone is sent.

In an email to The Rambler, Edge failed to acknowledge any discrepancy in the election he oversaw.

This was the first year that students were allowed to vote on their personal computers through a Surveymonkey link sent campus wide.

SGA didn’t release the name of the student incorrectly sworn in.

 

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SGA treasurer election: Round Three

Holly Brown

A&E Editor

Although students have voted twice already to decide next year’s Student Government Association treasurer, the winner is still unknown.

In last week’s runoff election, there was a perfect tie between sophomores Jordan Perkins and Ashley Carter for this position.

This comes after junior Wes Becker was eliminated from the running in the first round of voting, leaving neither Carter nor Perkins with a majority.

Because of the rarity of such an event, senior Josh Edge, the current SGA president, had to dig through the SGA bylaws to figure out how to handle the situation.

“It certainly is not something that happens typically,” said Edge.

According to the bylaws, the election must be opened up to new candidates, but only those who are already members of SGA. All eligible students must turn their petition to run into Edge by this Friday.

After new candidates have had a chance to enter the race, a third election will be held. This voting, according to Edge, will occur at some point during finals week. Students eligible to vote can keep an eye on their inboxes, where a survey link will be sent.

New SGA executives take office

Holly Brown

A&E Editor

Decision 2012

Student Government Association elections have come and gone, leaving Transylvania University with a new group of SGA officers for the coming academic year.

According to senior Josh Edge, the current SGA president, 422 students voted in the election, which is a little higher than the average participation rate.

With all votes tallied, junior Charli Fant will succeed Edge as SGA president alongside vice president Kayarash Karimian, a sophomore. Sophomore April Ballard will take the role of secretary.

For the treasurer position, however, there will be a runoff election since no candidate received 50 percent of the vote in the first round. The two candidates participating in this runoff are sophomores Ashley Carter and Jordan Perkins.

The runoff election for SGA treasurer will run concurrently with the election of senators, which takes place today and Friday. Once again, students will receive an email with a link to SurveyMonkey, where they will be able to cast their votes.

Fant attributes her win to several factors including a solid platform, her choice to have in-depth conversations with other students about her campaign rather than just telling them to vote for her, and her wide variety of experiences, which may have allowed a large range of students to find her relatable.

Fant already has an idea of the major goals that she hopes to accomplish next year. One of these is a revision of the alcohol policy, particularly in regard to the rules on the quantity that students are allowed to keep in their rooms and the discretion policy about bringing alcohol into residence halls.

“I want to make (the alcohol policy) more in line with what actually happens here on campus,” said Fant. “I’d be interested in looking at open container policy, but I don’t feel really strongly one way or the other about that. So, specifically, I would like to deal with the quantity rule and the discretion issue.”

Apart from revising student policy, Fant also hopes to make some more internal changes for SGA. Her first aim is to increase SGA office hours in the early part of the year, before first-year elections.

“My plan is to have someone study in there for about two hours a night,” said Fant. “The door’s going to be open; students will be able to come in, ask questions if they need to. … I want to make sure that students are coming in to see representatives, that we’re not just talking about ourselves and our interests but that we have a lot of student interest.”

This increase in office hours would specifically be directed at allowing the new treasurer, Perkins, to be available several hours a week to discuss funding issues with students who are interested in seeking SGA funding for their organizations.

“We’re hoping to have the treasurer there several times during the first few months so that students can get really acquainted with how to write funding requests, how to ask for operating funds, and things like that,” said Fant.

Along with giving organizations more opportunities for obtaining advice concerning funding requests, Fant would like to double the operating funds awarded to organizations by SGA, offering approved organizations $200 as opposed to the current $100 amount.

“I think organizations can really do more with that money and really take hold. A lot of organizations start off and in their first couple of years they don’t last very long because they don’t have enough money to thrive,” said Fant. “After you ask for operating funds, you can still come and ask for funding requests.”

Fant also hopes to makes some constitutional changes.

“I think we need two (public relations) chairs, one for each of the two major committees,” said Fant. “It’s an internal change, but I really think it’ll make a big difference with how SGA communicates with the student body.”

Outside of the president’s seat, Ballard expressed her wish that the student body become more involved in SGA’s work.

“I really want to make SGA more accessible to all students. I think in the past SGA has been seen as a group that isn’t open for suggestions and isn’t for the entire student body, but I want others to know that we want feedback and people to come to our meetings,” said Ballard. “Our whole purpose is to represent the student body, and we can’t do that without them.”

All officers-elect will officially begin their tenures April 11.

Rambler endorses Fant for SGA president

As the editorial board of Transylvania’s student newspaper, we are charged with providing the campus with both factual information and well-thought-out opinions on issues affecting our community. This is the role of every good newspaper. With this in mind, we welcomed all three candidates for Student Government Association president into our office to discuss their platforms and their vision for Transy’s campus. After meeting with all three candidates and discussing it within our editorial board, we are proud to endorse junior Charli Fant.

While each candidate had an impressive résumé, good relationships with administration and unique perspectives on the SGA president’s role, Fant is the candidate furthest from the status quo and will bring about effective change to improve the foundation of SGA and, by extension, the campus itself.

Fant offers several strengths with her candidacy, including a plan for transparency and accountability in the functions of SGA, ideas to reform the organization from the ground up and sincere plans to ensure an inclusive atmosphere for all students. These will ensure not only a great tenure for Fant but the establishment of an efficient and representative organization for years to come.

At its core, SGA is a student organization built to serve the student body in a multitude of ways. Its very purpose necessitates open and transparent actions at all levels. Fant proposed that under her leadership, specific details of funding requests and SGA’s budget, including how much it spends on itself, would be published, a radically new policy that neither of her opponents has shown concern with.

Read more of this post

Andrew Goff’s Rebuttal

Let me start by saying that running for SGA President from another continent is not the easiest thing to do, but I want to thank The Rambler for making themselves both convenient and accessible from abroad. In regards to my interview, I would like to clarify my stance on the opening of the weekly SGA Executive Committee (EC) meetings. While I do agree that transparency is something that this organization should always strive for, I do not believe that opening up EC meetings to the student body is the best option for attaining the level of openness and accountability that we all want for our SGA. If I were President, I would ensure that a detailed transcript and minutes were published after our EC meetings to keep the student body up-to-date with the happenings of SGA. I want to reiterate that I still stand by this position. For efficiency’s sake, I believe that keeping the amount of people present at EC meetings at the lowest number is best to ensure that the goals of the evening are accomplished. I simply wanted to clarify this position so as to not be viewed in a negative light, as I do indeed have the best intentions for the student body in mind.

Hannah Johnson’s Rebuttal

The three representatives of The Rambler that decided to endorse Charli Fant provided an informative account of the positive influence Fant would have in the position. She would make a great president. The endorsement, however, focuses only on certain issues relevant to the role of president. It recognizes that there is room for improvement in some of SGA’s functioning, but it excludes the importance of ensuring creative action within two major committees; Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. This is where students actually address issues and plan events that will impact all students.

This endorsement does not seem to support SGA’s endeavors to do anything different than just give money to organizations. I say this because though Fant’s  goal to empower other student organizations is referenced several times, the only way that this is illustrated here is through SGA’s monetary contributions. While this is definitely an important function, it is not all that SGA can do for the students.

To address some specifics of the endorsement, I suggested opening EC meetings to the public taking into account the fact that having full senate meetings open to the public thus far has not decreased efficiency. Therefore I do not expect a similar policy to negatively affect the EC. Should efficiency become an issue under this initiative, we could address it in the future.

The endorsement does not mention SGA’s active attempts to reach out to the campus. SGA should provide all students with opportunities, not just those who seek them in our full senate meetings. This is why campus wide events such as the Beck Blackout are helpful not only to bring everyone together, but to show students that SGA actually wants to do things for them. Maybe goals such as these are seen as attempts to make SGA the “dominant force on campus,” but I instead see them as taking advantage of the potential the organization has in using connections with the administration to do something about the lack of school spirit and unity; an issue that SGA was confronted with and actually did something about. On a side note, the funding for the Beck Blackout was provided mostly by the university and therefore did not take away from funds that could be given to other student organizations from SGA’s budget. I, too, am for empowering student organizations to act in this way. There is room in SGA for both acting and empowering others to act.

This endorsement makes a valid argument; however it values change and reform in the activities that SGA has been pursuing for a long time without supporting SGA’s efforts to take on new tasks to provide opportunities that could benefit all students. If your only concerns as a voter are the inner workings of SGA and funding requests, and if you think SGA should not try new things and take risks on a campus-wide scale in addition to improving these aspects, then this is an accurate guide to how you should vote.

SGA President Platforms

Charli Fant

Hello Transylvania! As you have hopefully heard by now, I am running for the office of student body president. I know many of you well, but for those I don’t know as well, here’s a brief spiel about me.

I am a junior biology major who plays basketball for the Pioneers. I am an indy, the resident adviser in Thomson Hall, and have been a member of SGA since my first year on campus. During my time on SGA, I’ve served as treasurer and am currently serving as vice president. The greatest contribution I have made to campus so far was to chair a committee that removed the current visitation policy on campus in favor of a 24/7 policy that will go into effect in August of 2012.

But that’s enough of what I have done and what I have been. Here’s what I plan on achieving as student body president. First, I will expand both the financial and cooperative support of SGA for other student organizations. Second, I will review other policies on campus in order to make them more reflective of realistic expectations and practices. Third, I will create a more discussion-friendly environment between senators and fellow students through the reinstatement of SGA office hours.

If there exists a common theme to these three highlighted goals, it is that I want SGA to become more than an event-planning organization. I desire that it use its resources to listen and respond to student body needs and ideas. While this position does not come with unlimited time, money or power, I can promise to devote as much of myself as possible to both accomplishing my goals for this university and helping to accomplish yours.

Thanks for your time and consideration. Please vote Charli Fant for student body president!

 

Andrew Goff

In my three short years at Transylvania, I have made it my main objective to ensure that the Transylvania Student Government Association is truly that, an organization of students for students.

Since the fall of 2009, I have dedicated myself to the service of the Student Government Association in various capacities, from senator to vice president. My desire to serve the student body and provide my fellow Pioneers with a voice on campus was the impetus for my decision to run for president of this organization that I care about so much. I believe that I possess the skills necessary to serve as president of the Student Government Association and lead in a manner that benefits everyone at Transylvania, allowing each and every student to shape the face of our university.

In my previous term at Transylvania, I was elected by my colleagues on the Student Government Association to the position of academic affairs committee chair. In this capacity, I served as the student liaison between the student body and the administration. As such, I was fortunate enough to work with the administration, students and staff to ensure that the student body’s academic concerns were addressed and dealt with by the powers that be on our campus.

Unfortunately, I was only able to serve in this capacity for one term, as I am currently interning for a member of Parliament in London for my term abroad. One of the hardest parts of this entire process has been being removed from the organization that I have devoted myself to serving since I arrived at Transylvania some two and half years ago.

As president, I will make sure that the Student Government Association is as transparent and efficient as ever. My main focus will be to continue promoting the needs and opinions of the student body. My leadership roles across campus, good rapport with the administration and relationships with faculty will enable me to ensure that the voice of the student body is heard and taken seriously. I would certainly appreciate your support in the coming election. Thank you!

 

Hannah D. Johnson

I have been on SGA for three years and have been on the executive council for two, serving first as public relations chair and then student affairs committee chair. With this position, I was in charge of the Beck Blackout and All-Campus Dance, which was a first for Transy. Through this, I have communicated and worked closely with the office of the president, dean of students, Department of Public Safety, Campus Recreation, Sodexo, physical plant, Greek life and more.

My experience in planning this event will help me to plan similar events in the future if elected president, and I hope to have two per year in an effort to increase school spirit, unity and pride. One of my goals for another large event on campus is to have an outdoor concert with a fairly well-known band that would be open to the community.

I hope to involve SGA in supporting proposals for academic changes. An example would be to have more lenient policies on class absences when a student is representing the university in some capacity such as an athlete.

Besides instituting my own ideas for the student body, I am very committed to including others in making these decisions. Therefore, I hope to make SGA a more accessible organization that involves all students. To do this, I would like to institute SGA office hours to be more receptive to student concerns. Because I represent several groups on campus through my involvement with Greek life, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, being a student orientation leader, Alternative Winter Break and campus service in general, I feel I am able to bring groups together in this representative organization. Overall, I am a good fit for this position because of my experience, my commitment to bringing Transylvania students together and the fact that I do what I say I will do.

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