The annual elections for 2008-2009 executive board of the Student Government Association were held last week resulting in Jessica “Jai” Northcraft winning the president position over Laura Ness by 395-272 and the rest of Northcraft’s running mates winning as well. Brad Horstmann won the vice presidential position in an unopposed race with 563 votes, Hannah Lamontagne was elected treasurer over Anthony DiJacomo by 355-304, Bob Becker won the secretary position over Jon Kuklis 355-299 and Colby Langweiler won the parliamentarian position in an unopposed race with 463 votes.
Because of the two unopposed positions of vice president and parliamentarian, the executive board was bound to be a mix of the two tickets but ultimately resulted in only Langweiler, from the Ness ticket, being elected as parliamentarian and joining the members of the Northcraft ticket next year on the executive board.
On Tuesday, April 8 both tickets could be seen around campus handing out flyers to raise awareness of the elections and promote their platforms and names. The members of the Ness ticket had a comprehensive pamphlet as well, highlighting their goals if elected, such as a reworking of the budgeting process for student organizations, the personal project of DiJacomo. His plan create a new formula for budgeting based on an array of criteria was the subject of some questioning and controversy at the debate SGA held on Monday, April 7.
“I see friends out there that are part of the finance committee but I have to say this,” DiJacomo said at the debate, going on to say that SGA’s finance bylaws needed drastic change. The budgeting, based simply on the previous year’s budget for each organization, would have been discarded in DiJacomo’s plan and a new formula would be created.
“The criteria would have to stand on so many factors it’s not even funny,” DiJacomo said of his plan. The complexity of creating a new formula for deciding each organization’s budget could have made voters wary of uncharted territory in SGA bylaws. DiJacomo accepted that his ideas might not result in a completely new formula, understanding the uncertainty of the “feasibility of a very, very large change.”
Kuklis, who ran for the secretary position as part of Ness’ ticket, also had plans to begin a late-night shuttle service for students that would run from South Campus to Market Street to provide transportation and safety for students traveling to their off-campus residences or bars and restaurants located in the downtown West Chester area.
The shuttle service would require a private company to provide the bus, therefore requiring a certain amount of money to keep the shuttle running. Kuklis began this project several years ago and might continue to work on the shuttle service idea as an SGA senator.
The primary platforms of Northcraft’s victorious ticket were to “[p]rovide student representation in the University’s presidential search, provide updates to the student body in regards to campus construction and include students in negotiations of important campus contracts,” such as food service and laundry, among others.
Northcraft emphasized student interaction and communication with SGA at the debate held before the elections began. By definition, as Northcraft said, “Everyone is a member of student government,” urging that all students should become more involved in the workings of SGA and provide feedback to their elected student leaders. “I would like student’s voices heard,” Northcraft said.
While not as drastic as Dijacomo’s budgeting plan, Lamontagne also said that she would work to update SGA’s budgeting SOPs, or standard operating procedures, so that budgeting could be improved or made more streamlined for student organizations. The SGA finance committee works with student organizations to decide budgets each January, allowing Lamontagne the first semester to fulfill her plan of updating the SOPs.
Northcraft, who has led the finance committee this year said she will mirror her role as president.
“As far as my leadership style, I like to sit back and let the committee decide what’s best,” Northcraft said of being part of the finance committee and continuing that style as part of the executive board. The presidential position of the executive board does not include any vetoing power over other members of SGA, making the president work with student senators.
The representation of the student body that voted for next year’s executive board seemed to favor what might be considered the “safer” ticket out of the two, opting for less overall change in budgeting and the institution of new projects such as the late-night shuttle system.
This is an interesting juxtaposition to the hordes of young voters that are supporting Barack Obama in the nation’s presidential race whose entire platform is based on drastic change of national policies and procedures.
Shane Madden is a fourth-year student majoring in history with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.