SGA Election Committee looking for a few good candidates

With campus events canceled, this term’s SGA elections will be held completely online for the first time

By Kyle Hobstetter on April 17, 2020

Members of SGA at Tiger Pride Day
SGA members pose for a picture at last year's Tiger Pride Day. The SGA is looking for a new Executive Board for the 2020-21 school year. 

Towson University’s Student Government Association (SGA) is once again looking for its next executive board, but the upcoming election is going to look a little different.

This year’s election commission will be working completely online—gathering applications, holding debates and holding the election. 

Usually around this time of the year, the election commission would be tabling around campus, trying to drum up student interest in being candidates. Now, the commission is focusing all its efforts to social media and email.

“The commission is working incredibly hard to adjust their plans to be online,” says Marlena Weiss, election commission adviser and a graduate student in the psychology department.

“Since the students are not able to have in-person events, they are ramping up their digital marketing and taking advantage of all the online resources we have to spread the word. They are meeting regularly and using online platforms like Webex and Google Docs to collaborate and complete projects.”

Students interested in running for the SGA Executive Board can sign up on the homepage of Involved@TU. Students can run as individuals or as part of a larger executive ticket consisting of president, vice president, attorney general and treasurer.

The deadline for students interested in running for the SGA Executive Board is 4 p.m. on April 24, with the online election dates take place on May 6 and 7. Stay up to date with the SGA through their Twitter and Instagram pages.

Being part of the SGA allows students to represent themselves and advocate for the opinions of the student body to the TU administration. It’s also a way to get involved as a student, learn more about advocacy and representation and cultivate leadership skills.

The SGA also plays a critical role in the shared governance of Towson University including serving on university committees where major decisions are made. The executive board also oversees the allocation of student activity fees collected from undergraduates.

This includes all of the events put on by the Campus Activities Board such as Tigerfest, funding for undergraduate student organizations, sport clubs and other major campus events such as TigerTHON and Relay for Life.

“Also, this specific SGA election is important as there are changes to the SGA Constitution that need to be voted on,” says Abyan Nery, the head commissioner for the SGA election commission. “Without an election this semester, it would be impossible for those changes to be made.” 

There was initial conversation about moving the elections to the beginning of the fall term, so the candidates could meet with students face-to-face. But without spring elections, the start of the fall term would have no student representation. 

That would create different issues, most notably, not being able to create and pass the SGA budget. This would leave student organizations unable to access funds until October at the earliest, along with leaving other major organizations such as sport clubs and the Campus Activities Board with budget shortfalls since they depend on SGA allocations.

Additionally, SGA would not be able to participate in major start of the year events such as Convocation, Welcome to TU, the Fall Involvement Fair and Student Group Leadership Summit. 

It also takes a lot of time and training to train the SGA Executive Board for their positions. This includes how to conduct business using Robert’s Rules of Order, draft legislation and appropriate funds using the SGA financial policy.

There will be a lot of changes coming up regarding the students at Towson and the input of SGA can help get concerns heard,” says Maia Fulton, a member of the SGA election commission. 

“[At the end of the spring academic term] the current SGA committee will be relieved of their duties and some are even graduating. If we wait until the fall, there will be months that have gone by where there will be no student input or advocacy because we will not have a SGA.”

Along with being the voice for the student body, past members of the SGA have found ways to make significant impacts on campus through major initiatives.

Past examples include the solar panels on top of the University Union Garage, securing federal funding to help build the pedestrian bridge that crosses Osler Drive, as well as changes to the University Bereavement Procedure that allow students to make up assignments and to miss class for a family funeral.

These recent examples demonstrate how changes pushed for by their predecessors continue to benefit the TU students of today. After this spring academic term with all classes being moved online, the SGA election commission is ready to find someone to take on the challenge of students returning to in-person learning. 

“The abrupt separation and transition to remote learning is the perfect time to show the strength of our student community,” says sophomore Kylee Messenlehner, an election commissioner and integrated elementary and special education major from Hellertown, Pennsylvania. 

“Now more than ever, we, as Towson University students, must showcase our immense leadership capabilities and make a positive impact. SGA is the perfect place for students to be the voice of their community and show that even COVID-19 cannot stop them from being heard.”