Late Friday afternoon, votes for the 2016 SGA elections were tallied and announced. Many waited to hear what the results would be, but none more eagerly than those running for office.
Pooja Shah (President), Nathan Farnor (Vice-President), and Emily Marmon (Secretary/Treasurer) shared that they all received calls about the results before the email was sent out to the rest of the student body.
Reflecting on where they each were when they received the call, Farnor said, “The way it works is Jeff Howard, our advisor, calls every winner. So he called Pooja, [who was] at Café Lola. I was at Relay [For Life] when I got my call. And then he kept trying to call [Marmon], but her phone was missing. He couldn’t send out the email until he told her that she won!”
Despite the unfortunate misplacement of her phone, an elated Marmon finally received the news, meaning that the announcement could be made via email to the entire ETSU student body.
Tickets are restricted to only campaigning the week of the elections, but the weeks leading up to the campaign were full of preparation and planning.
Then, on the stroke of midnight Monday morning, the real campaigning began.
“Monday through Friday we were set up from 8 in the morning until 4 p.m., and then you go to meetings in the evening,” Shah said.
Farnor added that different campus groups and organizations invite the candidates to speak at their meetings in order to share how their agendas match those of the specific groups.
Farnor and Marmon were running on the same ticket, and Shah was on another ticket. The trio shared how they expect to converge the goals of each group in order to benefit the entire student body.
“I think we did have a lot of similar ideas like safety,” Shah pointed out. “I think a lot the things that we want to accomplish will overlap and complement each other.”
Marmon added, “And I think if anything we can just combine our goals to make an even bigger agenda.”
Farnor continued, “I feel like there is broad stuff — everybody cares about safety, everybody cares about diversity. It’s how will we do those things that people differ a little bit on. I don’t think anyone will deny that we need a safer campus; it’s just sitting down and deciding how are we going to do this.”
Shah concluded, “I think we have all gathered different ideas, and I think it will be really good for us to collaborate and put together the things we have identified as the most important.”
Most of the candidates decide before spring break about the finalities of their campaign details.
Students must have one semester of SGA experience in order to run for SGA executives, and as long-time participants in SGA, all three candidates knew one another before their campaigns.
After a transition meeting this week, the newly elected executives will be sworn into office at the last Senate meeting, which is during the last week of classes.
Marmon discussed that the first big project they will have to complete as a unit will be to fill out the Senate and cabinet positions in order to ensure that SGA is representative of all colleges on campus.
“We are just working on appointing Senate so that we have a full senate going into summer and fall,” Marmon said, “and we are appointing cabinet members. We are looking at those applications now and trying to get access to our new accounts.”
Once the summer begins, the first main event that the executives will deal with for the 2016-2017 school year will be Homecoming.
The three agreed that a main demographic on campus that is really under-represented is that of graduate students.
As the executives discussed this issue, they shared that during this school year, only one out of 30 SGA senate positions was held by a graduate student.
“In theory, grad students should represent 20 percent of the Senate because they’re about 20 percent of the population on campus,” Marmon stated.
Shah believes the deficit comes from the fact that many people believe SGA only exists to cater to undergraduate students solely. However, Shah hopes to increase the representation of all of ETSU’s colleges — including those that are for graduate and postgraduate students.