The Student Government Association (SGA) of the University of West Georgia held their annual spring elections from March 9 to March 13 and announced the newly elected 2015-2016 Senate on Monday, March 23. The student body casted votes for next year’s Senators, Speaker of the Assembly, Chancellor to the Treasury, Vice President and President.
On the ballot were 19 UWG students competing for 17 Senate seats. The following students were elected by popular vote and will be sworn in as Senators before the end of the semester: Daniel Tressler, Ethan Stiles, Keylin Price, Niyah Montgomery, Shuntarius Jefferson, Allison Newell, Bridgette Kosiara, Katie Cardin, Michelle Moore, Cassidy Whittle, Tandeka Sitole, Denim Grzesik, Solomon Seaborn, Earvin Anumgba, Amanda Baptie, James Garrard and David Whiteley.
Among the newly elected Senators is sophomore Katie Cardin. Cardin is a secondary education major and a member of Delta Zeta sorority – but wanted to get more involved with student organizations outside of the Greek community.
“I wanted the opportunity to make an impact on my university and to better myself as an individual and as a leader,” said Cardin. “I’m excited to be able to make real decisions that are going to affect student life at UWG.”
Five candidates rivaled for the Speaker of the Assembly, but ultimately sophomore Brittany Groff won the position.
The Chancellor to the Treasury position saw sophomores Sumiya Culler and Ashley Small competing against each other. Despite Culler being the incumbent Chancellor to the Treasury, Small defeated her with 183 to 132 votes.
Randall Jordan Striblin was elected into the Vice President position without a competitor. Striblin served as a Senator and Parliamentarian during the 2014-2015 Senate and is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
As Parliamentarian, Striblin was charged with maintaining Robert’s Rules of Order during SGA meetings and served as a member of the Executive Council. His responsibilities as Vice President will grow to encompass serving as Chief of Staff for the Executive Branch.
Chance Grzesik, a pre-med major in his junior year, ran unopposed for the SGA Presidency. Grzesik joined SGA as a Senator in the 2013-2014 Senate and proceeded to become Speaker of the Assembly during the 2014-2015 year. The jump to president seemed logical to a natural leader such as himself.
“I saw a lack of leadership in the last two years and saw a place where I could make some change with my abilities as a leader and with my overall goals and vision,” said Grzesik.
In addition to the routine elections, SGA also presented a new constitution to the student body for approval. The new constitution was passed with overwhelming support from the students.
In January 2014 a small group of SGA members banded together in an effort to revise the former constitution. Among these members were Chief Justice Jonathan James, then Vice President Sandra Santiago and former SGA Senators Ethan Brown and Jadon Thomas.
The committee originally planned to simply edit a few sections of the constitution, but once they began making their revisions they found it easier to rewrite the entire document. James then spearheaded the formation of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee.
“The previous constitution and bylaws were confusing and hard to follow, so we ended up scrapping practically the entire thing,” said James. “To write the new constitution we pulled writing and ideas from other SGA Constitutions throughout the country.”
James and the rest of the the Constitution and Bylaws Committee hope the new constitution will ease the job of governing the student body for Senators. By removing unclear wording and round-about phrasing, the committee created a document that will aid Grzesik in his goals of increasing Senator training and better explaining their role on campus.
Already involved in a diverse spread of organizations, including Chi Phi Fraternity and Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society, Grzesik plans to focus next year’s Senate on what the student body wants and representing students in a more encompassing manner.
“I want to get feedback from the student body,” said Grzesik. “Typically, we host an event called Coffee and Concerns multiple times a semester, which kind of got forgotten about this past year.
“My goal for next year is to actually have Senators going out to try to see what students want done around their campus,” continued Grzesik. “Then, we can take that into committees and work towards accomplishing their wishes. That’s why we’re here – to represent the students and their opinions in different areas like Parking and Transportation, Academic Affairs, Technology, everything.”
While Grzesik emphasizes improving Senator training and their interactions with the student body, he also hopes to increase students’ personal involvement in SGA affairs and planning.
“I would love to see more students involved in SGA committees and planning, because in real government it’s not just those people in government who do all the planning, they actually seek outside themselves for planning and other ideas,” said Grzesik. “We are the student leaders but that doesn’t mean everything is on our plate – it is our job to delegate and look for help.”