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SGA committee working to increase voter awareness before elections

With Student Government Association (SGA) elections approaching, students are hoping to see changes in the upcoming group of newly or re-elected members of the senate, and SGA Election Committee chair, Vice President Darby Debonis said the committee’s number one priority is increasing voter awareness.

Preparation for elections have begun, according to Debonis, who said via email that the committee is working to collect candidate’s information and pass it on to the SGA Public Relations committee to publicize their platforms in an unbiased manner.

Adrian Chavez/Staff Photographer

“I believe in rotating power, because when there’s a change that change is put into action rather than spoken about,” Gianna Dejesus, a sophomore social and behavioral sciences major and ROTC student said.

When asked if they had even begun thinking about the upcoming elections, students’ responses were an overwhelming “no.” Debonis said she is aware of the importance of voter turnout and they are aware of the hard work ahead of them.

The election committee’s work with the public relations committee boosts the profiles of the candidates while also working to build awareness for the election.

“I don’t know what they do. They talk about doing a lot but don’t actually follow through,” Margaret Burgon, a sophomore biology major said. Burgon also said she does not even know who the senator is for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Despite her lack of in-depth knowledge of student government, Burgon said she does enjoy SGA sponsored events and said she hopes for more academic initiates from SGA in the future.

Debonis said the Election Committee is holding an event to increase voter awareness called Meet the Candidates in the Cove from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 20. She said the event’s purpose is to help the senatorial candidate share their platforms and answer student questions.

Fairness in the electoral process is also of the utmost importance according to Debonis who said it’s ensured through the structure of the committee which keeps the election process democratic by having the group which reviews issues in the electoral process not eligible to run for office.

“I do not foresee any issues, but I hope to be able to fill the seats that have no candidates have applied to run for,” Debonis said. She said the elections committee will be working on filling the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Nursing, and the College of Communication and the Arts senate seats in early April.

Campaigning for senate seats officially begins on March 18 and students will be able to vote via email starting on April 1st and ending on April 2 according to Debonis.

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Other general SGA updates:

The Student Government Association (SGA) senators approved Senators Adriano and Murphy’s Senate Bill 1819-1005, “The IARA Amendment,” which primarily affects senatorial responsibilities requiring each member to attend student organization events, general body, or e-board meetings three times each month.

The SGA had its first reading of the annual Finance Policy drafted by Treasurer Tanamal and Senator Babiak of the Finance Committee, which could potentially affect the budget allocations of student clubs on campus.

The policy would affect the amount allocated to each SGA recognized club’s budget with each club able to request up to 110 percent of their 2017-2018 budget on their budget application, effectively receiving 10 percent more than the previous year. However, an increase is not guaranteed according to the policy, and clubs should also be weary that they’re also open to having their allocated budget cut by up to 10 percent.

Senator Nicolls was approved as the SGA’s new EPACC Commissioner. As commissioner, Nicolls said she will work on having an EPACC website to host all of the environmental initiatives and be a resource to all students interested in the university’s environmental efforts.

Taylor Cutcliff and Samantha Seitz presented a co-sponsorship request for $913.14 to the Senate for the upcoming PirateThon event, which raises money for the Valerie Fund to help children medical treatments from their homes. The event raised over $8,000 last year according to Cutcliff and Seitz. The Senate approved the request.

Mia Page can be reached at


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