SGA meeting covers CrimsonConnect budget, board re-election

Katie Williams Staff Writer K.L.Williams9@iup.edu

The Student Government Association hosted a question-and-answer session for five executive board candidates, all of whom are incumbents running unopposed, Tuesday night before its weekly meeting in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room B10.

The candidates who spoke were Brandon Rager (junior, sociology), secretary; Vincent Lowerre (junior, communications media), treasurer; Kayla Thrower (junior, political science), chief justice; Carson Nicholas (sophomore, political science), vice president; and Brian Swatt (sophomore, political science and economics), president.

All candidates gave a brief introduction explaining why students should vote for them. Afterward, Swatt and Nicholas answered a number of predetermined questions, including SGA’s role in student advocacy.

“That is, and always will be, the mission of SGA,” Swatt said.

He added that the group is not able to do its job without input from the student body, and that he hopes to increase SGA’s visibility to achieve that goal. Nicholas stated that SGA would be advocating for IUP students, both statewide and on campus.

He also said a goal for next year’s board is to spend more time actively approaching students and asking for their input through initiatives such as reaching out to students as they walk through the Oak Grove.

Swatt said student activity is something that has to be fostered, not forced, through leadership and collaboration. The audience, primarily SGA members, also asked questions of the candidates, but most of the focus was on Swatt and Nicholas.

During this time, Swatt addressed the issue of campus and SGA diversity by externalizing plans to work more with the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement and similar groups.

CrimsonConnect’s cost and transparency in SGA were issues discussed at the IUP Board of Directors meeting March 9 when Student Trustee on the Council of Trustees, Erika Fenstermacher (senior, psychology), questioned the validity of the survey SGA conducted to endorse the allocation of funds for CrimsonConnect.

Swatt said he felt CrimsonConnect is worth the price, but CollegiateLink, the programming software, determines the price.

However, Swatt also said SGA does not use CrimsonConnect as a means of primary communication because other social media is more effective.

“There is an issue with sample bias in this survey,” Fenstermacher wrote in a Tuesday email. “I doubt the participants from the survey conducted are entirely representative of the IUP student population as a whole.

“On top of that, there may be response bias. Participants may not have been completely honest, as they were completing the survey in the presence of the researchers.”

She said she was also suspicious that those surveyed were mostly friends or acquaintances of the research conductors.

Fenstermacher said she does not believe she is the first student or organization representative to bring up issues with CrimsonConnect, either. Swatt said SGA participated in both tabling research and Qualtrics surveys to determine students’ interest in keeping the website. He said tabling results came back close, but a majority of students felt it was in their best interest to keep CrimsonConnect.

The Qualtrics survey, Swatt said, had a slightly higher percentage of students in support of keeping CrimsonConnect.

“I’m going to go with whatever the students want,” Swatt said.

He said he advocates for the site because he believes it’s what students want.

During its regularly scheduled meeting following the Q&A, SGA voted on changing the number of signatures needed for election or re-election to SGA to 50 for the fall semester and 25 for spring, pushing back confirming the minutes taken at its last meeting and participating as a group in Take Back the Night and Earth Day.

SGA also determined that signatures for election or re-election can no longer come from SGA members.