The newly elected Shah-Debonis administration may have won the Student Government Associate (SGA) election less than a week ago, but there is one hurdle left to overcome — managing the seven vacant senate seats.
Since the announcement of their victory on March 28, the current SGA administration has still not filled seats left vacant by outgoing senators. The SGA stopped accepting applications for open seats as of March 31 for the two vacancies in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Communication and the Arts and in the College of Nursing, and one in the School of Theology.
Violet Reed, the current vice president of SGA who heads the Elections Committee, is working diligently with her administration to fill the vacancies. Candidates are intimidated given the competitive nature of the races for seats in the larger colleges, according to Reed’s past observations. However, she has made it a personal goal to ensure the new administration has a complete team from the get-go.
She admits that despite reaching out to students about the election through several interest meetings and a university wide email announcement, there was a degree of oversight that may explain the lack of interest for the positions.
“We could have done a better job reaching out to the schools of Nursing, Theology, and Communications, which typically have seats that are harder to fill,” said Reed. “I know that the Deans of those schools are more than willing to help us get the word out to students about their ability to represent their school in SGA – this year it was an oversight by me to not do that.”
Michael Gallucci, a sophomore majoring in public relations, is one of the current students vacating his seat as a Communication and the Arts senator. Given his commitments to other organizations on campus, Gallucci said that he prefers to open the seat for someone capable of committing to the responsibilities of the position.
Nevertheless, he is disheartened not only by the lack of interest students have shown in the position, but also that students are not using the position as a resource. During his time as a senator, Gallucci and Timothy Guerrero, a freshman visual and sound media major serving as the second CommArts senator, have established avenues for students to voice their opinions on matters within their college.
“Timothy and I have made ourselves available to the students and even provided Google Voice numbers to text their comments, questions and concerns to us,” Gallucci said. “Not one CommArts student has used that resource yet. If there are any students in the college that believe there is something to be fixed or improved, they haven’t brought it to either of us, and they haven’t sought to become involved themselves.”
Currently, Guerrero is the only confirmed student running for reelection as a CommArts senator. Although he said that vacancies are a normal part of governance, the delay may impede the progress envisioned by the Shah-Debonis administration.
“I understand it and recognize that it’s a part of Student Government,” Guerrero said. “Just like in actual municipal governments, vacancies indicate a lack of representation and coherency throughout the governing body. It is important we fill these seats, as the 2017-18 SGA term broke barriers for what an SGA can do to better our university.”
Gallucci may not be running for reelection alongside Guerrero, but he will continue to serve the SGA at the ad-hoc level. He hopes students will fill those seats and in the near future students can continue their progress.
“If things are truly so great in the college that there is nothing students can bring to SGA to improve, that’s wonderful,” Gallucci said. “But, I think that constant improvement can always be made and I sincerely hope there are leaders in the college that step up to have the same opportunity to make a difference that I had as well.”
Nicholas Mariano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.