Letter to the editor
Student Government Association must resolve internal issues
May 2, 2017
My name is Patrick Okan. I was on the Student Senate (now called the Student Government Association) from 2008-2012. I served in various roles, including as the spring 2011 elections commissioner and on an elections reform committee in 2010.
I applaud SGA for taking a leadership role in addressing campus issues over the past couple of years. However, SGA is ultimately the students’ legislative body and it is imperative that it establish clear and well thought-out policies for the dispensation of student governance. SGA has failed in this regard. Election issues strongly underline the need for reform and demonstrate the need for SGA to re-focus on policy.
A fair and well-planned elections process is essential for SGA. Following elections reform in 2010, a clear elections timeline was established. Senate set clear and deliberate procedures for handling elections grievances and rules protecting candidates from unfair actions by Senate over alleged rules violations were enacted.
The SGA clearly needs to reconsider its own policies for conducting elections, as well as for the handing of other business. The elections took place late in the semester, so time has almost run out to resolve the ongoing issues. The elections were ineffectively managed, and the election rules were poorly written. A candidate was removed from the ballot even as voting occurred. These outstanding issues may throw the election into question and further delay a final outcome.
Again, it’s great that SGA has branched out from its role solely as a policymaking body. But, as Pink Floyd says, “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.” SGA must focus on resolving the problems in its own rules before it can be an effective legislative body; this must be the primary focus of any government that hopes to be a force of good for students.
Patrick Okan, former UWRF student and student senator