Keeping Up With The SGA: A Silent Vote

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Published April 8, 2019
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The Montclarion
From left to right: Executive president nominee Jherel Saunders-Dittimus, vice president nominee Jonathan Varano, executive secretary nominee Sharese Sumter, student board of trustees nominee Fathia Balgahoom and treasurer nominee Rama Moulayes stand on stage together in the Rathskellar during the SGA debate. Sam Carliner | The Montclarion

It’s election season for the Student Government Association (SGA), but a number of Montclair State University students have heard little about it.

Robyn Marella, a junior studying sociology, learned about the SGA her freshman year through getting involved with Student Life At Montclair (SLAM) but felt that she was in the minority.

“We were talking about [the election] at one of our meetings for my sorority, and only one other person knew that it was going on, out of 80 [people],” Marella said.

On Wednesday, April 3, a debate of the SGA candidates was held in the Student Center Rathskeller. Many of the candidates for the executive board positions, all of whom are running unopposed, acknowledged the lack of awareness on campus about the SGA.

Executive president candidate Jherel Saunders-Dittimus explained his encounter with the lack of awareness when he was getting student signatures in order to run for the position.

“Going around getting signatures for my packet, a lot of people were questioning, ‘Why am I writing my name down? What is this for?’,” Saunders-Dittimus said.

Student board of trustees candidate Fathia Balgahoom said she encountered similar reactions while getting signatures.

When asked about how to increase the SGA’s presence, many of the candidates offered creative ideas. Saunders-Dittimus suggested setting up a table outside of Car Parc Diem to help inform commuter students about the SGA’s role on campus. He also proposed that the entire executive board could do more to show up at campus events together.

Executive secretary candidate Sharese Sumter focused on promoting the SGA through social media, a tactic that the current secretary Jillian Royal has been using.

Sumter also explained she’s met many commuters who don’t attend events on campus due to time conflicts and wants to work on scheduling more events at times that work best for commuters.

After the debate, students in the Rathskeller were given the opportunity to ask questions, and many students did. Questions were asked about how the candidates would handle working with people with cultural differences, how they could better represent organizations that feel underrepresented and how they could better include transfer students in the community.

Current SGA treasurer Vincent Osei asked the candidates several questions covering topics, such as conflict resolution, keeping clear communication and maintaining professional relationships with organizations. At the end of the event, Osei felt optimistic about all of the candidates running.

More information about all of the candidates is available on the SGA’s Instagram account, @sga_msu, and on HawkSync. Voting for the candidates and several referendum questions is currently open to all students on HawkSync. The results will be announced at an SGA meeting on Friday.

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