SGA passes revised proposals to expand presidential eligibility, election board

BY
MANAGING NEWS EDITOR

The Student Government Association (SGA) faced contention last semester concerning eligibility for student body president, with discussions culminating in a failed November proposal to expand the candidacy to SGA senators. The SGA passed on Monday a revision to this failed proposal, which will allow SGA senators who have served for at least a year and are deemed suitable candidates by the election board to run.

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While Monday’s bill gives more students the ability to run for student body president, some SGA senators feel that the new system remains somewhat undemocratic.

The elections board, which ensures SGA candidates follow the rules during the campaign and election process, currently consists of the president, the SGA advisor and another Student Centers staff member. Because the new eligibility requirements will give the board a greater role, SGA president Ben Page-Gil proposed the board include more students. Like the new presidential eligibility bill, this proposal was passed unanimously by the Senate.

Senior Jordan Wohl, who proposed the original bill in November unsuccessfully, presented the updated version Monday. One of the cosponsors of that bill, sophomore Frank Haendel-Gonzalez, expressed that while he endorsed the new proposal, he still wished it was more inclusive.

“I’m rather satisfied with the change to the proposal because I think it opens up to a greater public the opportunity to run for president,” he said. “But for my personal convictions, I think that in order to uphold our democratic principles [the presidential election] should be open to non-SGA members.”

Wohl said he also hopes this will be the next step after the first expansion to SGA Senators takes place but acknowledged this change was the first step in the right direction. Before this proposal was passed, only three students out of a study body of 17,000 would have been eligible to run for SGA president come elections in April.

The Senate passed three other proposals as well, including appointing a representative to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education (SAPE) committee, a proposal to make SGA’s commitment to the White House “It’s On Us” campaign official and a system that allows students to rent mobile power outlets in Morris Library.

President Patrick Harker also spoke at Monday’s Senate meeting.

“I’m here to talk with you all about what I lose sleep over, what I think about most when it comes to the university,” he said.

He spent most of his time talking about his “obsession,” as he called it several times, to make sure college is more affordable and, therefore, more accessible. In a broad sense, he said the middle class is being priced out of higher education. Americans spend about half a trillion dollars a year on higher education and that reality is dangerous for the country, he said, because if costs continue to rise, it will be hard to maintain an educated citizenry.

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Emily Moore/THE REVIEW
UD in particular is committed to remaining affordable, Harker said, especially for Delawareans.

He mentioned his involvement in the Minerva Project, a Silicon Valley startup that represents a new model in education—students pay $10,000 a year for a largely online, but still interactive, learning experience focused on critical thinking skills.

“We have to learn things from the Minervas of the world,” he said. “But at the same time [the university] should double down on the stuff that really matters in place-based education.”

If a student is going to pay thousands of dollars more for a more traditional education, there needs to be more emphasis on what is done outside the classroom, he said, whether it is student government, a sustainability movement or a theater group.

Senior Rebecca Bronstein, a primary advocate for a campus Office of Sustainability, asked Harker if there were any talks of the office coming to fruition. While sustainability will be stressed as part of the Delaware Will Shine strategic plan, he said he is not sure about the office.

“When you create such an office, sustainability becomes the office’s problem, not mine,” he said. “So if I’m in facilities or athletics, I might think about it less—that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have one—but this happens with a lot of issues. People say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t have anything to do with me.’”

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    […] do think it’s a shame, though [that she is running unopposed],” he said. “We changed the rules to expand the pool of eligibility this year, and it’s unfortunate that no one took that […]

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