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SGA cabinet appointments postponed, concern over split positions

A pre-pandemic Senate meeting in March of 2019. In the new remote format for Senate, 7 senators will be representatives from Multicultural Leadership Council groups. Photo by Liz Paik.
SGA’s recent meetings have been concerned with split-term cabinet positions next year, fearing lack of stability. Photo by Liz Paik.

Student Government Association (SGA) Cabinet Officer appointment confirmations have been postponed after controversy during last Sunday’s Campus Council. SGA Senators said they had concerns about the need for continuity, effectiveness and constitutionality of the proposed appointments, which included three proposed split-term positions. The split terms would be due to students elected choosing to study abroad for a semester next year who would share one office, each working in the position during the semester they were on campus.

Six students are nominated by SGA executives each year to fill the positions of Assistant Treasurer, Concerts Chair, All Campus Events (ACE) Chair, Services Chair, Diversity and Outreach Coordinator (DOC) and Administrative Coordinator. This weekend, after a round of applications and interviews, the executives-elect proposed that ACE Chair, Concerts Chair and DOC positions be shared between two students who would each serve one semester, instead of one serving for the full year.

Current SGA President Myles Becker ’19 said that one question raised in the meeting was if the association wants to prioritize the involvement of third-year students over the way in which the cabinet represents the students and works effectively with the administration and the student body. Three split-term positions would result in a newly-formed cabinet halfway through the year, which could disrupt familiarity with the job, the campus climate and student constituents.

From the perspective of the executives-elect, however, it is primarily a matter of choosing the most qualified candidates.

SGA President-elect Regina Logan ’20 said she understood the senators’ concerns, but has confidence in the abilities of the executives and proposed cabinet members to develop effective ways to mitigate problems that might arise. “Coming up with joint goals and visions for next year, I think we can do it in a way that maintains continuity,” she said.

Sunday’s debate also became a constitutional dilemma. Section One of the SGA Constitution officially defines Cabinet terms as one academic year. But the by-laws permit students going abroad to submit joint applications, explicitly allowing for both full-year and split positions. By-laws may technically be superseded by the Constitution; SGA’s task this week was to assess whether split-terms are in accordance with SGA laws.

Logan said she sees this as a positive opportunity: “This week will allow us to clarify what’s going on in the Constitution and to make sure our process is entirely constitutional, and it’s also giving us more time to sit down with candidates to clear up the concerns about continuity, and to meet with senators to hear any remaining concerns.”

While split-term positions are the exception and not the norm, there is precedent for students to take office for only one semester. Last year, current Administrative Coordinator Dylan Welch ’19 was ACE Chair for one semester, and he never studied abroad, either. He said that continuity is a valid concern but pointed out that splitting positions can be a refreshing mid-year change. “There is a tremendous burnout rate for cabinet members during spring semester,” Welch said. Citing his own experience, he said, “I actually felt I had a lot more energy coming in last year.”

A resolution addressing the constitutional and logistical issues surrounding next year’s cabinet appointees is in the works. To Becker, the most important thing is that the perspective of all SGA members is fully considered. “I want to make sure the voices of Senators are being represented. There is faith in the executives, they were elected by the student body to make appointments and conduct the hiring processes how they see fit. But it’s equally important that as they bring this forward, the Senate has the importunity to discuss the change being made,” Becker said.

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