Senate in the hot seat

Two of the Student Government Association’s executive board members resigned Jan. 9, leaving open positions.

With a nearly half empty senate, SGA is having difficulties recruiting and is struggling to revive interest in the organization. This semester, 12 senate, one judicial council seat and two executive board seats are vacant.

“No one here should be happy with the fact the senate hasn’t been full all year,” Vice President Sheena Dunn said at a SGA meeting Jan. 9. “It is your job to find students to fill these positions,” she told SGA members. “I ask you, I beg you to make sure these positions get filled.”

President Jennifer Perry said the Vice President of Public Relation Camille Perry and Vice President of Student Involvement Jesiah Brock both resigned because their schedules were too demanding.

Dunn read Brock’s resignation letter to the senate in which he apologized for the inconvenience he caused, but said there were other personal obligations in his life that required him to move on.

Dean Kent Kelso, advisor to SGA, suggested the reason for so much difficulty retaining and recruiting students was because serving a position was too demanding.

“I have served as an advisor for SGA six years and 16 years at SGA’s (at other colleges) all over. The one thing that is distinctive to this SGA is that meetings are once a week,” he said. “The question needs to be raised: is once a week too much of a time burden? I have seen too many good students being forced to quit because of time-restraints.”

Kelso suggested meetings be held only twice a month. Such a measure would require an amendment to SGA’s constitution.

“I want to see all of the seats filled before the end of the semester,” Perry said. She said she wants to take a different approach to recruitment this semester and do more one-on-one recruitment. “We should be there as humans instead of e-mailing,” she said. In the past SGA has marketed itself primarily through fliers and advertisements in The Northerner.

“At a university of this size, there should be competition for every seat,” said Sen. Tim Kennedy. “It shouldn’t be open like it is for anyone who walks in.”

In November, 332 votes were cast during the SGA Election. Appointment was nearly a shoe-in for senators. Fifteen Senate seats were open but only nine candidates running. Several people were elected as write-ins and two senators were appointed with as few as nine votes.

SGA Senators do not receive stipends, but Executive Board members, committee chairs and the chief justice all receive monetary compensation for their time.

“I can only recall one time and that was just for four weeks, when the senate was full,” Meyers said. Meyers has been a senator for two years.

He said that he has considered whether the number of senate seats should be cut. “But we have 14,000 students on this campus,” Meyers said. “You’d think there’d be 30 people willing to step up and do it.”