Correction, Feb. 26 at 10:03 a.m. — The name of the Executive Vice President was stated incorrectly. Louisa Sholar is Executive Vice President. Elon News Network regrets this error.
There are 32 open positions on the ballot for the Student Government Association election, including president, vice president, secretary and treasurer for the executive board; the senior, junior and sophomore class councils; and the academic councils.
Voting begins March 2 at 9 a.m., and students can vote electronically on PhoenixCONNECT. Executive Vice President Louisa Sholar will send an email to undergraduate students informing them of the election with a link to vote, according to the SGA elections packet spring 2020.
In last year’s election, 2,705 students — only 39% of undergraduates — voted for the student body officers and academic council. Current Executive President Jack Johnson ’20 declared a victory over runner-up Nate Jones ’20 by 280 votes.
2018-19 Student Body President Kenneth Brown Jr. ran unopposed but received 2,374 of the 2,881 votes that were cast for the student body offices and academic council.
While voter turnout is one concern, getting students to run for office is another issue. In Johnson’s State of the Campus Report, he listed the election as a remaining priority of his term. He told Elon News Network that SGA could do a better job of getting students to run for office.
“Elections are also important, and this is an area that I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job, because I think that SGA oftentimes has a lot of vacancies when there shouldn’t be,” Johnson said. “There are really good student leaders. We have to do a better job reaching out to them and finding them.”
There are 12 vacancies — including executive secretary — in the race out of 32 positions.
Once elected, these representatives are responsible for drafting and passing legislation that affects the student body. Johnson affirmed in his report that, “SGA is a governing body, not an event-programming one.”
Legislation such as S.B.20-2.2, known as “Safe Rides Reimagined,” has an effect on students as it provides discounted Uber rides on weekend nights.
While SGA has legislative power, it also can influence the administration and culture at Elon. Johnson said his biggest accomplishment was not legislative; it was the support he and other members of SGA gave students after truck drivers yelled slurs at them. Outreach included getting targeted students to fill out bias reports on such incidents.
Jana Lynn Patterson, dean of students and SGA faculty advisor, is in administration and said they maintain a strong relationship with SGA. According to Patterson, administrators have an open door policy. She also said an SGA member has to meet with administration before introducing a piece of legislation to “discuss the issue and seek mutual solutions,” which allows SGA to “affect change.”
Johnson said this relationship is an important one to get things done for the student body.
“SGA is a limited organization in terms of explicit power, but it has a lot of influence,” Johnson said. “A lot of people think that, ‘Oh, SGA will just fix that.’ It’s not really how it works. Where our real power and energy goes is into influencing the official title power makers or holders on this campus.”
Voting in the election closes on March 3 at 5 p.m. Results will be announced in Moseley Center at 6 p.m.