In her 24 years of being the Elon University SGA adviser, Jana Lynn Patterson, dean of Student Heath and Wellness, said she had never seen this before.
As the SGA elections draw nearer, with voting starting Feb. 20, three of the four top executive positions — executive vice president, executive secretary and executive treasurer — are left without a running candidate. Last year, there were eight students running for executive positions.
“In my tenure of being SGA adviser, this is the first time that we have three executive positions that have no candidates,” Patterson said.
Senior Kyle Porro, SGA executive president, said he didn’t expect such low participation on such vital aspects of the organization.
“We’ve had elections when only one person has ran for a position, but this is the first time I’ve seen all of those open executive positions.”
As the deadline for the application package and petition closed Feb. 6 at 5 p.m., the news of the lack of candidates came as a surprise to all of the executive board members of the SGA.
Whoever becomes executive president will appoint her executive staff because no one else is running. Senior Alex Hunter, current SGA executive secretary, said this is concerning.
“You have to be able to want to do it,” Hunter said. “You have to want to be treasurer. You have to want to be secretary.”
The candidates for Executive President — juniors Morgan Bodenarain and Rachel Hobbs — were just as perplexed. Bodenarain, current Class of 2018 vice president, said that no one running for these duties is inexcusable.
“All of the positions should be contested,” Bodenarain said. “They are really important positions and SGA does a lot on campus.”
Hobbs agreed, but said that whether she or Bodenarain wins, she knows the incoming president will make the most of it.
“I think its an interesting situation for sure, but I think we can make it a positive situation,” Hobbs said.
Senior Eason Warren, current SGA executive treasurer,said he was disappointed but not surprised at the news. Warren said he suspected many people would be weary of running for an executive position because of the time requirements. But while he said the work is consuming, it is also rewarding.
“The executive positions are the most work load heavy positions that we have in the SGA,” Warren said. “The main preoccupation people have running for SGA executives is that they don’t think they are going to have the time or the continued dedication to do their position properly.”
“People are really worried that working on the executive board of SGA will take away from their social college experience ... SGA hasn’t taken away from my college experience, it’s enriched it. Being involved with the executive board involves a lot of interaction with the executive faculty of the school, and having that availability with them can’t be really compared to anything else.”
According to Porro, SGA first discussed extending the deadline but noted that it may cause more trouble in the grand scheme of things with the candidates. To run for an executive position, a potential candidate must attain 75 signatures from every grade level, totaling 300 student signatures.
Senior Mark McGann,current executive vice president, personally believes in the signatures, saying it is an effective way to garner support.
“If you are going to be a speaker of your student body, and there are 6,000 students, you should be able to talk to your student body. So 75 signatures from each grade shouldn’t be too difficult,” McGann said.
Despite the initial surprise of there only being two candidates, Porro said that “once we started thinking about who would be the logical people to take these positions, it’s not as surprising.”
Both Porro and Patterson attribute the low numbers in this year’s race to the increasing amount of students studying abroad, candidates earning leadership positions in other organizations, a majority senior senate, the difficulties of the application and the early graduation of several upcoming seniors.
SGA’s Senate consists of 55 students, 26 of them being seniors. 47 percent of the senate will be graduating at the end of this school year. Patterson said because of this, the incoming SGA will have to market itself to others who normally wouldn’t run.
“SGA will have to look to folks that are not associated with the senate and begin to develop those leaders as well as mentor them so they will be interested in executive positions,” Patterson said.
Spencer Wagner, a senator since his freshmen year, is one of the upcoming seniors planning on graduating in December 2017. Despite not being able to run, Wagner believes that everything will be resolved.
“Several people will step up to the plate when asked by the president, whichever one wins,” Wagner said. “I trust that it will work out.”
Regardless of the situation, Patterson said she is not worried about the future of SGA.
“I have every confidence in both of the candidates running for president that either one of them will work hard to identify great student leaders,” Patterson said.