Seton Hall’s Student Government Association (SGA) installed their newly elected class of senators and executive board members for the 2019-2020 academic year on Monday evening. Interim Provost Karen Boroff and Vice President of Student Services Tracey Gottlieb led the swearing in of the executive board and at-large senators, while the deans of colleges swore in their respective delegations. In total, 15 of the new senators will be serving their first term as full members of the body.
The swearing in will officially start the second term for SGA incumbent President Rishi Shah, who defeated Ad-Hoc Senator Anthony Chen in a competitive race. In his address, Shah thanked his supporters and said that he was looking forward to working with the new senate as well as the newest elected members of his executive board, Vice President Frank Mabalatan and Secretary Elise Kerim. Treasurer Divine Tanamal will also be joining Shah’s team for her second term.
“I know too many faces, I know too many names, I know too many concerns to forgo my duty as repressive to the student body,” Shah said, reiterating a primary tenant of his campaign this year: that his experience and the bonds he’s formed through SGA will be one of his strongest assets in serving students.
In addition to the swearing-in ceremony, senators also convened afterward for a three-hour special session to transition from the old senate to the new senate. The meeting culminated with the election of new committee chairs for the coming year as well as new senate leadership members, such as Arts and Sciences Senator Arthur Adriano who assumed the speaker’s gavel from former Senate Speaker Jacob Abel after being elected by his colleagues. Abel had chosen not to run for a third senate term this year, leaving the position without an incumbent.
The office of the speaker is one of the most important in the body, serving as the chief legislator in the senate as well as presiding over all meetings. Abel said though it’s bittersweet to be on his way out as speaker, he has no doubt that Adriano will help with expanding and SGA and implementing policies to improve the Senate even further.
In response to his election, Adriano called it “an absolute honor” and remarked that he’s excited to assume the new role. Now that he holds the gavel, the newly christened speaker said that he hopes to expand SGA’s communication capacity to beyond that of just the senate, but to the whole student body noting that he feels there’s been a disconnect between students and their representatives.
“We’re gonna establish plans and agendas to make sure our senators are out there talking to their constituents, and I’m going to encourage bringing back Meet the Deans events,” he said, referring to the forums SGA senate delegations used to host within their specific colleges.
Working alongside Adriano on senate leadership will be Diplomacy Senator Julia Nicolls as parliamentarian, the second highest ranking legislative officer in the Senate, and Arts and Sciences Senator Victoria Burns who will serve as Senate sectary.
As for committee chairs, Senators Saveria Antonacci and Ronald Babiak maintained their positions as Student Life and Finance committee chairs, respectively, while the other three committees — Public Relations, Academic Affairs, and Village Relations — all required the senate to elect new chairs.
One of the more vocal candidates for chairmanship was At-Large Senator Santiago Cabrera, who proposed sweeping reforms to the Village Relations Committee from the top down, even insisting that it be given a new name, the External Affairs Committee. Cabrera, who was elected to chair Village Relations, a position left vacant following the election of former chair Vice President Mabalatan, insisted that widening the scope of the committee beyond just South Orange Village would enable it to interact with cities such as Newark and New York and build relationships that would benefit the student body.
Other fresh chairpersons, such as Business Senator and Public Relations Chairman Ezequiel Myers, expressed an interest in building on some of the shared goals of his fellow Senate leadership members, namely through increasing communication and bolstering outreach campaigns.
“Outreach is very important to make sure that the student body is willing to interact with us,” Myers said. “SGA has to put on a positive face and a welcoming face.”
Those sentiments were echoed by incoming Education Senator Amber Ingram who was elected to chair the Academic Affairs committee, a position that she called a “natural transition” given her background in education.
“I think it’s really important to be involved in your education,” Ingram said, adding that as an education major, she’s been a leader in her classroom who has witnessed the influence that education leaders can have on the greater student body.
On her goals for her upcoming term as chairperson, Ingram concluded that she felt the most important thing she could do was listen to the concerns and recommendations of fellow students on where to go from there. Said Ingram, “It’s all about listening to what the students want and then making that change.”
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find him on Twitter @NickKerr99.