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College SGA to change structure

Cailin Crowe | Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Student Government Association (SGA) at Saint Mary’s College announced in its meeting Wednesday that it will make major changes to its basic structure, giving Saint Mary’s students more diverse representation in the voting process, SGA executive secretary Emma Brink said.

After concluding last semester with a preliminary vote to change the structure of SGA, President Nicole Gans said the organization is focusing on answering a few basic questions this semester regarding the restructuring of SGA.

“What ways can SGA be structured to best fit the students need?” Gans said. “What is going to happen? What is going to change?”

Brink said these changes include restructuring the voting body of the organization into five councils and one senate, rather than the current board of 25 commissioners and the 8-member executive board.

“SGA hopes that the new structure will include a board of unbiased voting members in the Senate, a focused group of Councils to produce new ideas and programming, a more efficient flow of information and, overall, more participation within SGA,” she said.

Gans said she is optimistic about the restructuring of SGA with regard to student opinions and collaboration between students and the College’s administration and faculty.

“I hope that the new structure gives more people a voice on student government,” she said. “We are attempting to build an inclusive system that promotes relationships with administration and faculty.”

Brink said SGA is currently operating under a hybrid of the old and new structures, and complete changes will occur along with student government turnover on April 1. The turnover process and the new structure will involve more students in new roles, Brink said.

“Now that students can run for Senator positions, the election process this year will be much more exciting and dynamic,” she said. “At the same time, students who prefer working behind-the-scenes can apply for Council positions as committee chairs or members. ” 

Instead of having the class boards and club presidents comprise the board of commissioners, the new councils will represent various student interest groups, including the Student Academic Council and the councils of Activities, Clubs, Class Boards and Committee Chairs, Brink said. The president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and chief of staff of SGA will each serve as the head of one of the five councils.

Brink said the council members will be appointed by interviews conducted by the SGA president or by individual academic departments. However, this process will not appoint class board presidents and the Student Activity Board, Resident Hall Association and Student Diversity Board presidents.

Position names will also be changed to incorporate the full responsibilities of each position, Brink said. The executive treasurer and secretary will now be vice presidents of Finance and Internal Affairs, respectively, and the chief of staff will now serve as the vice president of External Affairs.

Brink said the new Senate will be comprised of 15 students who are not currently members of SGA, and these students cannot serve on any of the five new councils.

Since Senate members will represent a variety of student perspectives and interests, such as class years, dorms, clubs and other student organizations, Brink said she hopes the Senate will provide opportunities for the freshman class to get more involved on campus and pursue leadership roles.

“While this restructuring process will take time, SGA hopes that our work will result in a more efficient board and a broader, more diverse group of leaders representing the Student Body,” Brink said.

Gans said she hopes the new system will complement the success of the current administration.

“I am so proud of the current administration for all of their hard work,” she said. “I hope [our successors] will find the new structure is more efficient, allows for more effective communication, and that it will allow them to focus on important issues.”