Rows of empty black rolling chairs surrounded the Student Government Association (SGA) senators in Student Union Room 200 Thurs. Aug. 25, 2011, during the first SGA General Assembly meeting for the fall semester.
The senate has 15 open seats, four freshman at-large seats, four at-large seats and four open officer positions. The vacancies are divided between eight different colleges and the at-large seats. Senate leaders opened the meeting by addressing these open seats.
“I know we are lean right now, but I think that will change very soon,” said SGA Senate Advisor Jonathan Adams.
Student Body Vice President and President of the Senate Amanda Markham announced the empty seats during her message to the senate.
There are currently two open seats in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, two open seats in the Belk College of Business, two open seats in the College of Health and Human Services, one open seat in the College of Computing and Informatics, one open seat in the College of Arts and Architecture, one open seat in the College of Education, three open seats in the College of Engineering and three open seats in the University College. There are also four freshman at-large seats and four at-large seats.
The senate vacancies have two opportunities to be filled in the coming semester. At-large seats can be filled in the SGA Fall Elections Sept. 20 through Sept. 21(The ELECTIONS ACT §6-14.-§6-1.13) and open seats can be filled at any time. Students wanting to fill open seats must present 50 constituent signatures from their respective college, attend one General Assembly meeting and receive 2/3 senate approval (BY-LAWS of the STUDENT SENATE §3-1.1).
If no open seats are filled both the College of Engineering and University college will have no senate representation.
Markham says that these two colleges are notorious for not having any representation and that it will not be an issue.
“These colleges typically have little to no representation. I think it has to do a lot with the nature of students in the colleges,” said Markham. “We do our best to represent the student body as a whole anyways. It’s our duty to look out for them.”
University College has yet to have a single senator since it gained 3 seats on the senate last year and it is approaching two years of having zero representation. This does not surprise undeclared freshman Ryan Hess.
“It would be great to give us undeclared majors a voice, but it’s hard to have a voice when we don’t even know what we want or what we’re looking for out of college,” said Hess.
Senior Mechanical Engineering major Aaron Lucas says that the curriculum of the College of Engineering makes it hard to participate in SGA.
“With the engineering workload, things like SGA aren’t what concern us. That’s not to say SGA isn’t important. We just say well I have thermodynamics, dynamics, and all the other classes that take up so much time we’re just like, why would I even bother myself with SGA,” said Lucas.
He also feels the college of engineering is often forgotten in the bigger scheme of the university’s planning and that SGA representation might be able to help.
“It’s interesting to think if we had some SGA representation we might get more attentions and things that help out engineering students I’m not sure if SGA could’ve changed decisions made about things like the location of the new parking deck, location of our new classrooms or the inconsistent trolley system, but some help would be really nice,” said Lucas.
Nominations forms for at large positions are due Sept. 2 and can be found at the SGA elections website. Markham asks that anyone interested in running for an open or at-large seat to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her in office at the Student Government Complex.