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.