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The Northerner

Friendships, not politics, create SGA coalitions on key votes

Travis Gettys

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After this week’s Student Government Association elections Nov. 12-13, with 16 seats up for grabs, there could be a shake-up in what some see as a partisan rift that has developed in the representative body this semester.

Senators say that the split doesn’t necessarily run along national political party lines but, rather, coincides with friendships within SGA.

“There always has been some sort of level of factions but, with partisanship that’s not along Democrat and Republican lines, it’s more student interest,” said Lindsay Hunter, senator, who has served on SGA for three years.

“You’re going to hang out with your friends and you’re going to have the same interests as them.”

Hunter said she saw three voting blocs on this session of SGA: students she described as “ultra-political,” students who are involved in Greek organizations and students Hunter referred to as independents – senators who sometimes vote with either of the two larger groups, depending on the issue.

Noah Meeks, SGA senator and president of College Republicans, said he believes such developments are natural.

“In terms of these quasi-partisan groups,” Meeks said, “after the elections, I expect that the people that have become friends and have tended to vote together will continue to support each other.”

“You couldn’t expect them to vote for somebody who voted against them in half the votes,” Meeks added. “That’d be a little bit odd.”

Kent Kelso, dean of students, said he has seen SGA become more partisan in his time at Northern Kentucky University, which he attributed to an increase of SGA members who are political science majors or interested in running for office in the future.

“There are always a few (SGA members who go on to run for elected office) but I think the interest in that that I have seen over the last three years has really grown significantly,” Kelso said.

Many members of the current session are members of political organizations outside the university, said Joe Myers, chair of the SGA ethics and funding committee.

“It makes sense that you’re going to have politically-minded individuals running for elections,” said Myers, who has been active with College Democrats in the past.

“These are the people who, 10 years down the road, are going to be running for state legislature.”

Daniel Moore, SGA senator, said that sometimes committee members discuss outside political issues during time intended for SGA matters, which he believes causes a distraction and has led to divisiveness.

“There’s just an unspoken, implied, understood difference of opinion,” Moore said. “People think they’re professional politicians. We’re there to discuss NKU.”

Meeks, however, said outside political party affiliation hasn’t affected SGA votes.

“On key votes that we’ve taken this year, there’ve been Democrats that have voted with me and Republicans that have voted against me,” Meeks said. “I voted against our College Republican vice president for public relations on important votes.”

Voting booths for this week’s SGA election are set up in University Center and Norse Commons. Students can also vote online via links at the www.nku.edu or http://studenthome.nku.edu/~sga.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Friendships, not politics, create SGA coalitions on key votes