This past week, St. Mary’s students voted for a new SGA executive board and a new constitutional amendment to allow MAT student participate in the SGA.
The elections for the SGA executive board were held from Apr. 14-17, during which 306 students voted via their Blackboard accounts. Three days after polls closed it was announced via email that juniors Justin Perry and Elisabeth Neu, junior Kaitlin Hines, and senior Olusola Ogundele were elected as the new President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Director of Campus Programming, respectively.
Voting on the Masters in Arts and Teaching (MAT) Student Inclusion amendment also occurred during this time, but did not receive enough overall votes to pass or fail. According to SGA Parliamentarian Adam Matthai, the referendum ballot will be offered for students who didn’t vote from Apr. 25-28, and the results will be known by Apr. 29.
The MAT Student Inclusion amendment would integrate MAT students into the SGA by giving them the same inclusive rights as those given to other degree-seeking students. According to current SGA President Sunny Schnitzer, she decided to sponsor the bill after realizing that MAT students are currently not considered members of the SGA. Schnitzer said, “[SGA advisor Kelly Schroeder and I] discussed how it was really absurd that someone who is going to be on campus, who’s very invested in it, and has a lot of experience and time here, couldn’t technically participate in [the SGA].”
Schnitzer’s position was further galvanized when she realized that despite their lack of representation MAT students still pay the same student activity fees as undergraduates. According to Schnitzer, passing the bill will, “make it very very clear that all degree-seeking students, including MAT students, are members of the SGA.”
Schnitzer said support from the SGA was strong and the vote was unanimous to put the issue to referendum. This support, however, is not enough to pass the amendment. According to Matthai, any amendment to the SGA constitution must be voted on in the form of a referendum by at least a third of the student population; a simple majority of the voters decides the result.
Even if this amendment does pass, however, Schnitzer said that she was not sure where MAT SGA involvement goes from there. Schnitzer pointed out that no one really knows how much involvement MAT students want in the SGA, and whether they are going to have their own senator or be subsumed into the commuter constituency.
More clear-cut results came from the executive board election itself. With the exception of Director of Campus Programming, which had no formal candidate, all SGA positions were uncontested, a fact that likely affected voter turn-out for the MAT amendment as well. Both Neu and Hines have previous SGA experience; Perry, although lacking a prior SGA title, has co-sponsored multiple bills and is the current Editor-in-Chief of The Point News.
According to Vice President-elect Lisa Neu, both her and Perry’s main goal will be to increase administration-student communication. Neu said, “To me, the issue is not that students don’t know what is happening on campus, and that we should therefore send them more all-student emails… I believe the issue is that outlets for student feedback such as the SGA are not used to their full potential, and that is a problem for everyone.”
Schnitzer agreed with the sentiment and said that the SGA President and Vice President must serve as liasons between the student body and the administration, and must be approachable and attuned to student needs. Schnitzer is confident that her successors, and in fact everyone elected to the executive board, will embody these traits. She said, “I think [Perry and Neu] are big proponents of student well-being and student opinion.” She added, “I love [the candidates]. I’m so excited!”
SGA Vote Breakdown