North Texas Daily

SGA senators-elect talk goals and aspirations for the coming year

SGA senators-elect talk goals and aspirations for the coming year

SGA senators-elect talk goals and aspirations for the coming year
April 05
11:00 2023

Twenty-seven students have been elected as senators for the Student Governor Association’s 2023-2024 legislature in the largest election turnout since the COVID-19 pandemic.

SGA elections were held last week and the results were posted on SGA’s Instagram page Friday evening. The president and vice president election results have not been released due to possible election code violations announced Friday.

“I’ve never met so many like-minded but also diverse group of individuals who are just so passionate about their colleges, their students, but, more perspectively, UNT in general,” SGA Speaker Pro-Tempore Kaylen Ruiz said. “I’m beyond excited and [I’m] so looking forward to seeing how these senators are going to work next semester.”

Every senatorial race experienced an increase in voter turnout this year. While some college senate seats had only 10-20 more votes than last year, others gained hundreds more than  last  year. Throughout the 2022-2023 year, the SGA senate experienced a 100 percent retention rate in their senate, a first since the SGA’s inception in 1948.

The SGA senate is currently made up of 15 senators out of a possible 45.

In addition to 22 senator-elects representing specific colleges, five senator-elects were voted to represent the entire student body, and experienced record-breaking voter turnout, with over 3,800 votes cast. Daisy Pulliam, a human resource management junior, received the most votes out of any senatorial candidates, with 582 votes, only nine fewer votes than current president Jermaine Turner received during the spring 2022 election. The nontraditional student said she was “stunned” but was also encouraged to see her hard work pay off.

“Even though I had these few interactions one-on-one, [I was] able to put our name out there for [Off-Campus Student Services] and other non-trads and talking to them and just seeing what I could do,” Pulliam said. “I felt like I was starting to make an impact somewhere.”

Pulliam was the Non-Traditional Student Representative for the university until the beginning of March and worked in OCSS. Pulliam said being a senator at-large means she will “need to be more aware” of other issues on campus.

“I can’t just focus on what I have — I need to focus on everybody as a whole,” Pulliam said. “And I know we won’t do a huge impact, like getting something done right away, but we can lay the foundation work for that.”

Pulliam spoke on her multitude of goals, including the parking issue and tackling inclusivity, but also talked specifically about diversity, equity and inclusion policies on campus.

“I think it’s something that impacts everyone,” Pulliam said. “Even if it doesn’t impact you directly, it impacts one of your friends, it might impact a student in the future. We need to lay the groundwork to get those initiatives included and look and see how can we serve you in order to do this.”

Several of the senator-elects named the possible removal of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives from the university as the most pressing issue the university faces. Senate Bill 17 was filed in the Texas Legislature earlier this year and would remove all DEI policies from Texas universities, and a letter sent out from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office led to the university pausing all new DEI hiring initiatives.

“[Senate Bill 17] trumped every other issue because, well, UNT as a diverse student community is going to be affected severely,” at-large senator-elect and technical theater freshman Jeremy Garza said. “Whether that’s through the Black Student Union, the Multicultural Center, LatinX and LGBTQ+ communities, with this bill being passed it’s going to affect everyone.”

As the semester ends, the SGA executive board will be replaced with a new administration. SGA director of leadership and development Molly Williams, who helped implement the new First Year Council in the fall 2022 semester, said she hopes to see the council double in size under the new administration.

“Like all organizations here at UNT, we’ve had retention issues, multiple organizations have seen that issue, and a lot of the reason is that I feel like we can better incentivize First Year Council,” Williams said.

Some of the senators and members of the SGA executive board are in their final semester in their positions. Ruiz is in the process of creating workshops before the end of the semester to help teach the incoming senators.

“We’re going to help them, and we’re going to guide them so that next semester, they’re not lost,” Ruiz said. “Essentially, making it to where if they have a question, they know the answer by the time it’s next semester.”

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Ismael M. Belkoura

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Ayden Runnels

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