SGA elections include greater competition this year

Published by adviser, Author: Will DeShong - Staff Reporter, Date: March 22, 2012
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The Slippery Rock University Student Government Association will hold its annual elections for the 2012-13 academic year next week.

Three parties are currently vying for positions that will be voted for online from March 28 until March 30. Announcements of the winners will be made in the University Union on April 3 during common hour.

Party Rock, Together Our Goals Achieve (T.O.G.A), and the Mario Party each boast presidential nominees as well as candidates for other positions. Joining the hunt for the presidential nomination are two independent candidates, David Matuszak and Terrell McNeely.

An assortment of candidates for the executive board is a stark contrast to last year’s election, where all but one of the nominees ran unopposed. As a result of uncontested races, only about eight percent of the student body tallied a vote last spring.

Zachariah Dornisch, the commissioner of the SGA election committee, thinks the competition this year will spark interest on the campus.

“I certainly anticipate a larger turnout than last year simply because having more candidates should bring interest to the election,” Dornisch said.

With a couple opponents fighting for the positions, each party is campaigning various goals and ambitions for the upcoming year.

Party Rock’s main focus is to make SRU a wet campus.

“One of our main platforms is striving to make Slippery Rock University a wet campus,” Alex Hiller, the presidential hopeful representing Party Rock, said.

Hiller said that Party Rock would first appeal to Residence Life and the vice presidents of other administrative departments to allow the Rock Apartments to permit alcohol.

“The reasoning for this is because Rock Apartments residents are older and are transitioning between on and off-campus living, so they should be granted the opportunity to exercise their maturity as adults,” Hiller said.

Hiller said that depending on how well it works at the Rock Apartments, they would hope to move the policy onto Buildings E and F, the residence halls mainly for non-traditional students, before ultimately the other dorm buildings.

“This is obviously a multiyear process,” Hiller said, “but we are not afraid to fight the administration to achieve the desires of the Slippery Rock students.”

Party Rock also wants to provide Ethernet cable jacks next to the tables in Bailey Library so students are not dependent upon the WiFi service, and to create a merit budgeting system that would award the most active campus organizations rather than simply the longest tenured.

Party Rock is not alone in hopes of a merited budgeting system, as David Wolfe, T.O.G.A.’s presidential nominee, stated it would be his party’s primary objective.

“The first thing we want to change is the structure of the budgeting system,” Wolfe said. “It is currently run on a seniority system and that is not fair.  We want to create a new system that is based on merit of organizations.”

T.O.G.A.’s merit system would be based on what organizations make a difference on campus, judged highly on the successes of events they hold, and would punish inactive organizations that waste money.

T.O.G.A. also wants to change what they consider to be an elitist attitude in SGA.

“Currently we feel that students feel intimidated by SGA, and that they truly don’t want to change anything but have their own personal agendas,” Wolfe said. “We are going to do a lot of outreach to students and make sure they know that if they have any issues at all within their organizations, we are open and willing to help in any way possible.  We are truly concerned about the students on this campus and the smaller organizations that tend to get pushed aside.”

T.O.G.A. is pledging to work with AVI to create better meal plan options as well.

Both Party Rock and T.O.G.A. hope to fix transportation issues around campus, sharing promises to fix campus parking, increase the lighting on campus roads, and revising the shuttle buses schedules.

Matuszak, who is running without a party, wants to bridge the gap between SGA and the student body.

“Since the beginning of this year, I have heard numerous times that students do not trust SGA,” Matuszak said. “Some feel as though it is much too hard to convince SGA to help them if they see an issue, and others feel as though they do not look out for the good of the entire campus. If elected, I want show people that SGA can and is willing to help the student body, and that SGA’s agenda does in fact, benefit everyone.”

Another main emphasis of Matuszak’s campaign is the interaction of Greek Life and the student body.

“Greek life isn’t as big here as it is at many universities, but it does not mean they are not a major group on campus,” Matuszak, who is not involved in any Greek organization, said. “I want to work with them to move past any bad reputations that may exist and help them show the rest of the student body that they are respectable organizations and that students and faculty should support their efforts to do good on campus, as well as for various projects unique to each fraternity or sorority.”

Matuszak also hopes to revise the Happy Bus schedule and the budgeting process of clubs and organizations, and would also like to update what he calls “out-dated” signs at the campus entrances.

Hiller said that Party Rock is running on the principle of holding a high standard of an honest and transparent campaign representing the concerns of the students.

“We have to be ambitious about SGA and how we can provide a better college experience to the students,” Hiller said, because that is what it is all about—the students.

T.O.G.A is trying to put SGA back into the hands of the students while improving upon the budgeting system in SGA, particularly increasing the athletics budget.

“We are not running to stick with the status quo and let Student Government continue to spend our student fees without us knowing why or how they made the decisions to do so,” Wolfe said. “We are sick of the rules that make funding programs so complicated.  We aren’t going into this position to just continue the policies of SGA.  Things are going to change under us.”

A main factor in Matuszak’s campaign is he wants to show a strong willingness to listen, believing that it is important for students to feel their voices will be heard by those elected into office.

“The more we can listen to what the student body is saying, the more we can act, and the better this university will be,” Matuszak said.

Both party leaders and Matuszak preach that they are running transparent campaigns that are without unattainable promises.

The Mario Party and Terrell McNeely were unavailable for comment.

A presidential debate to be moderated by the SGA election committee is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Monday, March 26 in the Spotts World Culture Building auditorium. A vice presidential debate will follow.

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