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Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Student Government Association will hold its 2013-14 presidential and vice presidential election Sept. 17 and 18.
This year’s presidential candidate Marissa Olean (junior, criminology) and vice presidential candidate Zachery Chandler (junior, business education) will run unopposed.
The past two yearly elections have seen a dramatic difference in voter turnouts. The spring 2013 showed a decline from the 2012 SGA election, according to the Qualtrics survey used to track voting in the 2013 election and Zachary Stayman, 2011-12 SGA president.
In the March 2012 election, total voter turnout was 1,136, according to the article, based on information from the university’s Qualtric’s survey program. In the April 2013 election, turnout dropped to 616, a decline of 46 percent.
Olean predicts a different outcome this election.
“I expect there to be more votes this semester than there were in the spring,” Olean said in a Sept. 9 email. “SGA has really been putting its name out around campus. We have been trying to increase awareness and advocacy of the student body.”
IUP’s SGA, according to its website, serves as the “voice of the students in matters at IUP.” Formed in 1982, SGA is recognized by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education as the “representative body of IUP’s student population.” With elections approaching, here are five things the IUP student body should know.
Voting: How, When and Where?
Voting will begin Sept. 17 at midnight and close at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 18. Voting will take place via email as it has in the past, according to SGA internal affairs chairman Khareif Williams (sophomore, psychology).
All undergraduate IUP students will be part of a campus-wide email, which will be sent to each student at the time of voting. There will be a hyperlink in the email that will allow students to vote for SGA elections and also Crimson Court elections, Williams said.
The link will allow voters to vote by ballot through IUP’s Qualtric’s survey, Chandler said.
Presidential and Vice Presidential Responsibilities
The current SGA president Taylor Billman (senior, business administrative finance) and vice president Kevin Popeck (senior, management information systems/business technology support) oversee all of the inner workings within SGA.
The SGA president acts as representative of the IUP, according to the SGA constitution, and is responsible
for organizing all SGA meetings, which include an open student forum section.
Billman said that since he has become SGA president he has helped to evolve the organization.
“I believe my main duties are in a multitude of areas,” Billman said. “I have helped to facilitate initiatives SGA has taken on to improve the student experience at IUP. I have been the main point of communication between the SGA and PASSHE. I wear many hats since I have to be knowledgeable in all areas SGA functions. I have helped to restructure and improve the functionality of the organization.”
The president serves as chairperson of the SGA executive board and as a member of the university senate, though he is not permitted to hold any executive office within the senate, the constitution states in Article IV, section 4.04.
All appointed SGA officers and SGA positions are nominated by both the president and vice president. In each others’ absence, both the president and vice president are not permitted to vote on SGA business, according to the constitution, but they may cast the deciding vote in the case of a tie within the SGA.
Presidential and vice presidential student government debates will be held Wednesday (presidential) and Thursday (vice presidential)–one week prior to the elections as required by article VII, section 7.03 of the SGA bylaws. Both debates will be held at 9 p.m. in Pratt Auditorium located in Pratt Hall.
The SGA bylaws state that all SGA presidential and vice presidential debates are to be “mediated and proctored” by the current SGA president.
Because this year’s ticket Olean-Chandler will be running unopposed. Chandler said that the debates will be like “a town hall forum.”
“The debates can’t really be debates without an opponent can they? We are having this [town hall forum] because it’s a formality that in the past we overlooked when there was no opposition, and we got backlash for it. This way no one can say we didn’t follow the rules.”
The SGA debates are to be publicized by members of the SGA Public Relations Committee as well as SGA general members.
Why Elections are in the Fall
In past years, SGA elections have been held in the spring semester of the year prior to the newly elected president’s and vice president’s term. This year, however, elections are being held in the fall semester.
Olean credited this change to lack of time for newly elected executive board members to gain knowledge and experience.
“Most of the old executive board members would be graduating in the spring,” Olean said, “leaving little time for the newly elected executive board to shadow and ask questions about the new position they were taking over. Having elections in the fall will give SGA more time to transition the new executive board into their positions.”
The new fall election system will be a trial run, according to Chandler.
“If we find this to be effective, we will keep this system of voting in the fall,” Chandler said. “If not, then we will regress back to having elections in the spring. If that becomes the case, the winners of this election will have their term extended an extra semester.”
Revision of SGA Bylaws and Constitution
The SGA constitution (last revised in September 2012) and bylaws (last revised in October 2012) will be revised and restructured.
“There is quite a bit that I personally find wrong with the bylaws and the constitution,” Chandler said during a Sept. 5 email.
“There are some functionality issues for sure. The current constitution was rewritten in a time that they felt the need to make the constitution more basic, and we are in a major transition period and are growing. Our constitution needs to reflect what our organization should be at its optimum.”
The current constitution and bylaws are not current and have not been amended and updated correctly as things have changed, according to Chandler.
Chandler said there are “pretty big holes in there that need to be closed.” He will work with the SGA Rules Committee, the executive board, SGA advisers and senators that wish to have input to remake the constitution. The revision will improve upon the SGA bylaws and constitution by including better formatting, new structure and more clear information, Chandler said.
Although there has been no direct discussion about it, Chandler said he plans on “tweaking” some of the rules for the election process in the bylaws and constitution.