SGA presents structural changes
Published: Monday, March 19, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 03:03
Last week, the Student Government Association voted 24-1 in favor of a proposal that calls for major structural changes to the organization.
New student officer positions will be added, including vice president of university affairs and vice president of administration and finance, as well as seven more student senator posts. The new structure will include 32 senators in total, whereas the previous had 29.
At their March 12 meeting, the governing body also created a judicial branch, featuring the positions of chief justice and two associate justices, which will be responsible for disciplining SGA members and ensuring the group works within its constitution.
SGA director of operations and junior Dave Mroz said he wanted to change the layout of the organization when he took office last spring, and worked with the constitution committee over winter session to plan the new layout. He said the committee looked to institutions like the College of New Jersey and University of Maryland for ideas.
“We need to get back on track, we need to be more democratic, we need to be more like student government should be,” Mroz said.
SGA will hold elections for next year’s executive board and five university affairs senators on April 17. Students will vote on another five senators next fall. The remaining 22 seats will be appointed. Under the old system, all senator seats were appointed.
Any student with a grade point average higher than 2.5 is qualified to run for a senator position, but only those who have completed a full term in SGA can run for the executive board.
Students are eligible to run for president after completing a term on the executive board, which was also the policy under the previous structure. This spring, Mroz, director of programming Tierney Keller, treasurer Andrew Shermeyer and public relations director Michelle Barineau are eligible.
While senators were appointed in the fall under the old system, Mroz said the new voting structure will help the organization maintain consistency.
“When I joined, we would end in May and we wouldn’t start until October,” Mroz said. “Things would change and the new set of senators wouldn’t even know what it was like the year before.”
He said SGA members needed to refocus on enacting change students want in the university, and that the organization has become too concerned with holding events.
“We put a bunch of programs and bonding events together, which is all good and everything,” Mroz said. “But if you look at how many proposals we voted on last year that were actually significant, there weren’t that many.”
He said the only notable thing SGA accomplished last year was organizing a gala-style event on campus for the ONE campaign, which raised money and awareness about international poverty. He said this year’s executive board has been more focused on making changes students want at the university.
Mroz said the additional senators will allow SGA to have a presence all over campus, and the executive board plans to use the extra members to travel to university functions and to meetings of the Delaware legislature.
SGA president and senior Molly Sullivan said the increased number of senators will take pressure off the executive board.
“There’s only six of us, so it’s really hard to go to all the meetings with administrators,” Sullivan said. “It’s impossible for us to do everything, and school and try to do our homework.”
She said under the restructuring, certain senators would report directly to the executive board. These appointed senators would be responsible for attending university administration and local government meetings, including Newark City Council.
Freshman senator Ben Page-Gil, who was appointed under the old system, cast the single “nay” vote regarding the structure change. He said the person voted vice president of university affairs would have difficulty handling the required workload. In the new system, the person elected will have 23 student senators reporting directly to them.
“There’s definitely going to be a lot of ideas about how to better the university and how to better the students and colleges,” Page-Gil said. “I feel like that’s going to be a lot of ideas to be under one person. I don’t know how much attention each one will get.”
Mroz said the vice president’s job is to set the agenda for the senators, and that having them report directly to the university affairs vice president would better allow SGA to represent students.
He said the new layout will also make elected and appointed members more accountable. He said the primary goal of the newly formed judicial branch is to discipline inattentive members of the SGA.