With the Student Government Assossciation’s elections upcoming in February, the organization hopes to get more students to participate in the elections and have more students run for positions in the assembly.
Hank Bowen, advisor for the SGA, said that it is important for students to pay attention to the elections because SGA represent the entire student body.
“Do you want somebody who is just interested in the position to fill out their resume, or do you want someone who really cares about the needs of students and is willing to stand up for those needs to administrators,” Bowen said.
Some of the major talking points for SGA recently are fees, access to mental health care on campus and a good representative for the students on campus, according to Bowen. He said that SGA tries to get more students to run and will try to get a better representation for the student body.
“It’s been where everyone who is interested gets a spot, and that’s great, but also that means that there’s room for more people to try and run,” Bowen said.
There are 60 total seats in the assembly, and Bowen said that last year only 40 of the seats were filled through the election by the student body.
He mentioned that when a seat isn’t filled in the assembly, the position is advertised to students by email, and they also tell advisors for the college that needs representation.
“The SGA Rules and Judiciary Commission reviews all the applications and chooses who they think is the best candidate,” Bowen said. “They then nominate that student to the full assembly who then asks questions and then they take a vote.”
This raises an issue for Bowen, who wants all the seats to be filled in order to have a function SGA committee, but he also wants to see the democratic process pull through so that the student body may pick their representatives.
He hopes to see higher participation numbers for voting from the student body, even though the numbers have been up in recent years.
Every student is allowed to vote in SGA elections, even if they are doing online classes or are graduate students, according to Bowen.
“With almost 30,000 students, we had less than 2,000 votes last year, and that’s pretty consistent. To think that your representatives are there for all students, but less than 10% are helping to choose them, that can be problematic,” Bowen said.
President of SGA and a senior majoring in health services management Colin Johnson said that the elections commission is putting together a plan in order to figure out student opinion on the elections process.
Johnson said that it is important for SGA to educate students on why they’re an important part of ECU.
“It’s kind of a shame that not everyone is as aware of the work that their SGA representatives do, especially your student body president and vice-president have a lot of responsibility and make important decisions on your behalf as students,” Johnson said.
Johnson wants students to know that the president of the SGA represents the student body to the Board of Trustees. He also noted that the SGA handles over half a million dollars in student fee dollars, so he feels that students should care about who is handling these fees.
He said that SGA is the main student representative on all matters. There are members who sit in on faculty senate meetings who have a say and those who advocate on behalf of the student body, an example being the preferred name policy.
Senior computer science major Hannah Martin said that she feels that SGA elections are an important part of being a student at ECU.
“They are the ones talking to the Board of Trustees about what we want as a student body, and they will also, hopefully, look out for the student body and say what needs to be said to the university,” Martin said.
Students who want to run for a position in SGA to go to the SGA website. Candidate filing begins on Jan. 22 and ends Jan. 31, and the elections and campaigning process will begin in mid-February.