SGA election draws dubious ‘turnout’

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Update (03/05/2014): Kevin Lynch was elected to the College of Arts and Sciences seat in the runoff elections.

The 2014 SGA election season was a quiet one. The Connect ticket, led by President-elect Ann Knezetic, swept the vote as the only ticket to run for office. 480 students submitted ballots in the election, the lowest voter turnout seen in recent history, and the issue of vacancies in senate continues to plague the Association with six seats left unfilled in the public vote.

Next year’s executive board will comprise President-elect Knezetic, Drew Roznowski as the Vice President of Internal Affairs, Jaisel Patel as VP of Finance, Tommy English as VP of Academic Affairs, Nicole Kim as VP of Student Organizations, Mika Romo as VP of Diversity and Social Justice and Dorien Villafranco as VP of International Affairs.

With many important transitions expected for SLU next year, Knezetic said she was prepared for the upcoming workload.

“I’m ready to start the transition period and get things going,” Knezetic said. “Whenever that new president is announced… I want to contact them right away… to start building that relationship.”

Knezetic said she expects her current relationships with administrators will help her in building rapport with the new president.

In senatorial elections, the final position for the College of Arts and Sciences seats ended in a tie between Kat Carroll and Kevin Lynch. There will be a runoff election for Arts and Sciences students, but the details of the second election have yet to be announced. The Doisy College of Health Sciences, the College of Education and Public Service, the College of Philosophy and Letters, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Commuter students currently lack representation in next year’s Senate.

The issue of filling senate seats is not new, but this year marks the lowest participation rate in years. The low vote count has come in the wake of a senate reform bill passed at the beginning of the semester, which reduced the total number of available seats by 20 and reorganized the election process for many positions. The reform may have contributed to the decrease in student participation, as numerous seats that were originally open to broader constituencies have become internal elections.

The most notable among these positions are Residential position, i.e., senators representing Reinert Hall, Griesedeck Hall, etc. Sixteen of these seats were collapsed into two positions reserved for members of the Residence Hall Association. RHA will then internally elect two students to those positions, who will later be confirmed by senate.

“We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us next year, even now, trying to recruit people,” Knezetic said.

Roznowski stated that he has already begun work to build interest and find students to fill the empty seats within this academic year if not the beginning of next year.

According to Knezetic, next year’s executive board will have a focus on active recruiting and communication, not only in order to fill seats but throughout their entire tenure.

“I think that’s going to be a culture change for us, telling the student body what SGA can actually do for them and going out to them rather than them coming to us,” Knezetic said. Leading in to a year filled with changes, Knezetic hopes that SGA’s status on campus can be part of the transition.