SGA Elections Appeared Late This Year

Due to problems of information, technology, and weather, the Student Government Association (SGA) elections were delayed till Sept. 30 and were held until Oct. 3.

Senior and SGA President Mark Snyder said in his email, “Our bad for these being so late, the internet is a confusing place.” Senior and SGA Parliamentarian Pamela Schrenk, whose job it is to run the elections and check the constitutionality of SGA’s actions, said this about the elections: “Once we got them up and running they actually went very smoothly. The constitution says that we can’t have elections that are shorter than two days or longer than four days. I would rather have them during the week but by the time we got them up and running it was just simpler to let them run and send out student emails to remind people that they were running.”

Schrenk attributed the delay of the elections to a couple of things, saying, “Hurricane Irene delayed everything because the electricity was out for a few days and we had problems getting data… Then what happened is we had somewhat of a minor delay in getting the class lists and residence hall lists. We also had some technology issues with blackboard.”

In explaining what the SGA liked about using Blackboard for elections, Schenk said, “It is secure, we can tell who is voting, we can be sure they are voting in the correct election, and we can set a given start and end time that students during that time can vote at their own convenience.”  She explained that the major reason for the delay had to do with getting lists of students enrolled in classes along with where they live.

Learning Technology Support Coordinator Jennifer Wright explained why Blackboard is not ideal for running elections, saying, “Blackboard is designed to be a learning management system, so it is designed to help manage digital materials for courses. So when you’re doing surveys and voting on the scale of the whole college, this is not the first tool that should come to mind.” She explained that it was chosen as a tool in previous years due to its sharing capabilities as well as the limited options provided for online elections.

The SGA will not be able to use Blackboard in the future because Blackboard 9 will not support elections. Wright explained this saying, “We have overall less space for Blackboard 9 for courses and course materials. At the same time course materials are getting bigger and more expansive.” Wright explained that this combined with the fact that Blackboard is not designed for elections is why Blackboard should not be used in the future.

However it is not only the SGA that will be affected by this change. Wright said, “Now we are at a point where we need to be more mindful about space and use some better management techniques about active courses. So that has led to some thought of how we manage courses and space, how long courses remain active, and what we create as courses.”

She went on further to say that departments and committees with Blackboard sites are also being pushed out of Blackboard, saying, “This isn’t just SGA … I’m encouraging lots of oganizations and lots of different groups and committees that don’t have a course that’s listed in the database for registration to move out of Blackboard as we go to Blackboard 9.”

In regards to what future format of elections could be, Shrenk said, “We’re looking at alternate methods.” She even said they might consider paper ballots. There will be no more elections this semester, even though there are a few senator and class officer positions still open.

SGA elections begin

Student Government Association (SGA) elections began this Friday September 23 and will run through Thursday September 29. Although there have been a plethora of students who have started campaigning, a large amount of positions remain open.

According to SGA President and senior Mark Snyder, 14 Senate seats and a number of open Class Officer positions have yet to have candidates, an issue that “has been worrisome for me since day one,” he said.

Despite initial concerns, however, the elections show a promising turnout.  According to Snyder, the SGA has received a high amount of applications as well as inclination of many students to run through write-in campaigns.

For the Class of 2012, those running for class offices include senior Emily Gershon for Vice President, senior Molly Daugherty for Secretary, and senior Laura Bruffey, running for Treasurer.

“My biggest goal on Executive Board will be to ensure the senior class has the most memorable year possible,” Bruffey said. “As Treasurer, I will focus mostly on fundraising so that the entire Class of 2012 can enjoy all of the activities, events, and privileges that all St. Mary’s seniors should have the opportunity to experience.”

The Class of 2013 has only one candidate at the moment, junior Nithin George, running for the position of class Treasurer. The Class of 2014 filled their whole Class Executive Board in last Spring’s elections and are “in really good shape going forward,” said Snyder.

“I’m confident that after elections are held, every position will be filled,” Snyder added.

As for the Class of 2015, first-year Kate Brennan is running for Vice President and there are two candidates vying for the position of Class President, first-years Michelle DiMenna and Terrence Thrweatt.

Thrweatt emphasized the importance of every voice being heard. As president he states he would organize class activities and “partner with the SGA Programs Board to promote/organize events” as well as promote campus diversity and organize study groups with upperclassmen to assist those who need academic help.

“I’d like to bring down the cost of books by holding parties (open to all SMCM students)- that would ask for a voluntary admission fee (a donation).” Thrweatt said. “The donation would go to a “Book Fund”, overseen by the necessary school officials, and would be put towards subsidizing the costs of books for the students with the most financial need.”

DiMenna, also running for president, stated that she plans to “organize get-togethers and activities for the class to promote unity” and create a network for all first -years to be able to express issues or concerns they have about the campus or campus life.

“As 400+ freshman from various places and backgrounds, I think that it is important for us as a whole to have a strong base of friendship to build upon over the next four years,” DiMenna said. “Expanding upon unity, I would like to organize class-wide service activities. This would show the Class of 2015 to be a service oriented class, and in the process people would be able to connect and build friendships”.

Senatorial seats are also competitive, as several students are campaigning for the positions of Dorchester, Caroline, Waring Commons, and Commuter Senator.

“Elections are always tricky,” Snyder said. “There’s a lot that’s just not in our hands since we’re still using BlackBoard. We tried to get it organized a little earlier than in past years, and we’re making sure elections after winter break and spring elections happen a little sooner than usual. SGA is an organization that transcends the entire school; we work closely with students, faculty, administrators, even President Urgo. What’s been forgotten the past few years in the SGA was created to magnify the students’ voice on campus and this year we’re really trying to find ways to remind students of that. And the more people we have who are interested and engaged in the Senate the better, that’s why these elections are so important.”