SGA sees empty senate seats, opportunity for change

SGA sees empty senate seats, opportunity for change

SGA sees empty senate seats, opportunity for change
September 15
11:42 2018

Though the UNT Student Government Association constitution allocates 45 Senate seats, 28 SGA senators hold seats within the associating, leaving 17 seats vacant.

The fall 2018 semester marks the 50th Senate session and brings a new administration with SGA President Muhammad Kara and Vice President Dominique Thomas, who began their term in June. Kara said the executive branch is putting its efforts toward increasing recruitment and retainment.

“Right now, what we’re focusing on is the SGA experience within our own internal branches and putting the work back into SGA,” Kara said. “We’re focusing a lot on our interns this upcoming semester. We’re going to try to plug in our senators with our freshmen because a lot of the freshmen are interested in becoming senators.”

The executive branch intends to bring attention to Senate vacancies. Kara said the administration will push senators to find representatives within their colleges.

“Dominique is going to be setting up dean meetings to make sure that the deans are aware of the vacancies in all of their colleges,” Kara said. “Our outreach director is going to be tabling and pushing out our interest form.”

Crista Coffey, director of student affairs and SGA advisor, said each year is a new challenge.

Coffey said this administration is working to secure positions for members in order to move forward with its platform.

“My first goal for [SGA] would be to fill more senate seats because the senate is supposed to be the main face,” Coffey said. “The main connection to students is through the senators and their colleges.”

Kara provided insight into how the SGA hopes to increase retainment.

“We’re focusing on what the main purpose of a senator is, how they can feel valued and [how] they can feel that their work actually means something so they can actually make the effort to stay in SGA,” Kara said.

Coffey’s focus on recruitment comes with other responsibilities, too. In order to fill the senate, current senators must have a reason to stay affiliated with the organization. Coffey said there is a matter of retention and ensuring that senators are fully aware of their responsibilities in the position.

“Part of it is recruiting and then maintaining people by making sure in advance they know what the expectations are,” Coffey said. “Then it’s a matter of senators doing their job. I think the senators will feel ownership and excitement if they will each do their own job, talk to their constituents, create legislation and do work on behalf of their constituents.”

As the Kara/Thomas executive board attends to the free seats, returning senators focus on the need for change within student government.

Dalton Dickson, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator, said the senators should use their positions to facilitate outreach.

“I think it starts with making good connections and good relationships with other bodies within the university,” Dickson said. “Working with places like housing [and] dining is the real way you can see change outside of the senate and then bring legislation to the senate.”

Dickson said members of SGA are working to increase communication with other campus entities.

“A lot of the change that we want to see, we just have to go straight to the source,” Dickson said. “It’s not passed through legislation — we have to use our positions to talk to these other organizations. It’s really just being a voice for them.”

Dickson said the senate should focus on getting students to see what the SGA is capable of and that they can bring change if they join.

“We’re trying to get people in the senate [and in] those SGA committees that really want to see change and not power,” Dickson said. “By that I mean a lot of these people are or have previously been in SGA because it looks good on a resume or because they just think it’s good leadership opportunity and just never follow up on that. The best change that has come out of SGA is from people who just really want to see change on their campus.”

Featured Image: SGA Secretary, Rachel Schafer and Sergeant at Arms, Erich DeSchepper take on their new roles in SGA. Both were voted into their new position. Isabel Anes

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Ally Zarate

Ally Zarate

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