With this year’s Student Government Association presidential and vice presidential elections a week away, both campaigns are trying to position themselves as candidates who can make their organization relevant campuswide.
Congress members Chase Geiser and Emily Young are running against current SGA secretary Charlie Dankert and former cabinet member Marleen Abdelnour to replace senior Jim Darter and junior Sarah Currey as SGA’s president and vice president.
The two tickets are focusing on reaching out to the student body until voting starts next Wednesday and creating a stronger on-campus presence for SGA in the process. Both are concerned with what they feel is a lack of participation and interest in the organization, but each has a substantially different approach is addressing the issue.
Geiser, a rising senior, wants to get students more involved by giving them direct access to Belmont’s senior administration if elected. He believes that the organization’s current outreach methods such as SGA Trail are good, but not good enough in reaching out to the student body. If elected, he wants to create a new online forum where students can post any ideas or concerns they want Congress to look into.
“We are going to create a system where you can come to us with your problems. Congress would then vote on these posts as resolutions. Those that are approved would then get taken to administration,” Geiser said. “The organization needs to become more relevant.”
Geiser also wants to give regular students more say in SGA’s legislative process. He is currently supports a bill which, if approved, would give non-members the power to propose amendments and sponsor bills through their representatives. Geiser believes legislation increasing the power of the student body would in turn increase student interest in the organization, and is in favor of any bills that give students more say in what it does.
“SGA has nowhere to go but up,” Geiser said.
Dankert agrees that effectively collecting feedback from students and student organizations is a key issue for SGA. But he believes Geiser’s idea of a new forum for student proposals is unnecessary.
“We already have a Facebook page, Bruin Link and an email for students to contact us. Creating another medium is not going to provide us with more feedback,” Dankert said.
Dankert believes that the best way to get students interested and active in SGA and is to focus on face-to-face interactions between representatives and students. Dankert has proposed members of the organization be assigned to each represent a different student organization on campus. Currently, student organizations are not represented by individual Congress members.
“We would make the responsibilities of each member clear, and we would hold members more accountable,” Dankert said.
The rising senior hopes that direct representation of the student organizations would garner more feedback for Congress and Cabinet to work with.
Dankert will also advocate the organization pick a few specific campus-related issues and use those as a way to draw people toward the organization rather than “trying to do everything.”
He said taking action toward solving a few large issues will be a sign to students SGA is working hard to help them, rather than trying to resolve a multitude of smaller issues.
“We want SGA to be an enabler,” Dankert said. “SGA is in a position to help our campus as a whole reach its full potential.”