Voters clean house, more diverse faces to serve on SGA
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After another record-breaking election, it’s clear that there are going to be a lot of new senators in the Student Government Association next year — including a greater number of minority students.
“We had about 1226 people vote,” said Jordan Price, the SGA Election Marshall. “It shattered the senate turnout record by almost 500 votes. And it’s the second highest turnout we have on record.”
Out of the eight incumbent senators who ran, only five students who were senators this year will be returning as senators next year, in addition to Faiz Aly, who was the SGA Media Secretary for the 2016-17 academic year. Everyone else is new.
“I’m just happy to see a lot of new faces,” said Oge Onuh, the SGA Vice President for the 2017-18 school year. “I’m really excited about new initiatives that we have, a lot of new ideas, a lot of energy from people that are returning and also from new members.”
Incoming President Olivia Buckner said that having an SGA full of new faces is “not without its challenges.” But she pointed out that having a large number of incumbents presents its own challenges. “We love seeing more people interested in SGA and hopefully that will help everyone feel more represented and will help with SGA’s image, I guess, that we only re-elect ourselves,” she said.
Buckner said that they will emphasize good transitions between committee chairs for this year and the incoming year to ensure that things go smoothly.
Kalon Hightower, a Minority Mentor and rising senior, watched the banner unfold.
”From the names I see, there’s a lot more diversity, so that’s pretty good,” Hightower said. “There’s a lot more people that look like me… so I guess they’re more open to what I feel, my opinions, you know, cause we’re kinda comin’ from the same place.”
Adam Penland, who was on the Elections Committee this year, will be returning to SGA next year as a sophomore senator. He said that the new group of senators is a sign that SGA’s emphasis on diversity this year has paid off.
“So one of the big focuses of SGA this year has been diversity, and that’s now something that we’ve accomplished through this election, because we now have a very diverse group of senators that can serve the senate body, and that’s something that we’re looking forward to,” Penland said.
The current freshman said that he’s hoping his experience will be an asset in the coming term.
“I’m put in a very unique position because I am a younger senator, only serving as a sophomore senator [next year], but having one year’s experience under my belt, not just me, but all of the senators that got re-elected… [We] will kind of act to help the new senators adjust to what senate is like,” Penland said.
According to Penland, these adjustments can mean everything from learning about Roberts Rules of Order to understanding how bills get read and passed.
“I am very optimistic for the future, looking forward to what all of the new senators do,” Penland said. “I’m very excited and nervous at the same time, because it will be a learning experience for everyone, but overall, it will be a great experience for everyone.”