The Student Government Association (SGA) began its Feb. 4 meeting by welcoming five new members into its ranks. Students submitted nomination forms to SGA to be considered for the vacant senator positions and were then questioned by SGA.
Freshman Eric Pasternack was the sole nominee for the senator of culture and society position.
Likewise, senator-at-large nominees junior Daniel Della Cerra and freshman Meghan Lee, along with senator of science nominees junior Erin Welfel and junior Jesse Place, were unopposed.
Only Place, who was a senator during the fall semester but resigned due to personal disagreements with the way SGA was being run, was questioned by the membership.
Place was asked whether he respected the leadership as it is today.
Being part of SGA meant respecting its leadership, despite whatever disagreements he may have with it, Place said.
SGA then entered closed session to consider the candidates. When it emerged, all five were approved unanimously by a voice vote and were seated as senators.
SGA then turned its attention to a resolution criticizing Auxiliary Services for its allocation of rooms in the Brower Student Center.
According to the resolution, the SGA has had important events postponed due to confusion regarding room assignments on five different occassions.
The resolution also stated that the Leadership Development Program, College Union Board and Pre-Law society have all had difficulties with room assignments.
Michael Cilia, vice president of administration and finance, said that the resolution would preserve the “honor and integrity” of SGA by standing up for organizations that have been harmed as a result of confused room assignments.
Brian Mulvihill, senator of business, introduced an amendment to correct the resolution to refer to Campus and Meeting Services, which is responsible for the room assignments, rather than Auxiliary Services. The resolution then passed by voice vote.
SGA then began a debate on the set of five bills that would change the way SGA conducts its elections.
The first of the bills, read by Annelise Catanzaro, alternate student trustee and election chair, would eliminate online voting procedures, something SGA has tried to implement in past elections.
The bill would “make SGA elections more true to real campaigns,” Catanzaro said. Monique Manfra, student trustee, added that previous attempts at online voting were mired by technical difficulties.
One year the system crashed, and the next the link to the online voting Web site was not circulated to the entire student body, delaying elections and causing headaches for the alternate trustee.
Newly seated Place wasted no time getting into the debate, objecting to the revisions.
“Other schools have had great success with online voting,” he said. “I don’t want to eliminate that option.”
SGA apparently agreed with him. Although there was minimal debate, the bill was one vote short of the two-thirds majority required to modify the SGA constitution, failing 22-14-3.
The next bill, also introduced by Catanzaro, would modify the Election Committee of SGA to consist of the alternate student trustee and two impartial, graduating senior members of SGA chosen by the alternate student trustee.
The committee had previously consisted of the alternate student trustee and the senior class president and vice president.
Catanzaro said that the change “makes it easier to choose people who were available and able” to fill the position.
Catanzaro said that the obligations that the senior class president and vice president have to fill, have, in the past, prevented them from being able to serve on the election committee. The bill passed by unanimous voice vote.
The most contentious bill before SGA, however, was a bill to lift many restrictions on how SGA candidates campaign.
The bill, also introduced by Catanzaro, would allow candidates to advertise in The Signal, on the WTSR campus radio station, as well as utilize voice mail, e-mail and direct mail campaigns.
It would also remove restrictions on the use of microphones and bullhorns at campus events for campaigning and abolish limits on the amount of posters that may be posted on bulletin boards and in classrooms.
While Cantanzaro said that the bill would make SGA elections “true to a real campaign and increase turnout,” other senators objected, saying it would make campaigns about who had money and who did not.
Pedro Khoury, senator at-large, voiced concerns particularly about students who might advertise in The Signal, saying that it gave those students a significant advantage, as the newspaper reaches the entire student body.
Cantanzaro agreed, and amended the bill so that the prohibition on The Signal advertising remained.
While Robin Davis, senior class treasurer, speculated that 50 candidates papering bulletin boards and classrooms with flyers without limit would cause chaos, while executive board members spoke in defense of the bill.
“You don’t need a lot of money to win a campaign,” Laura DeLucia, executive vice president, said. “You need networking.”
Matthew Civiletti, freshman senator of engineering, introduced an amendment to strike provisions that would lift prohibitions on using voice mail and e-mail for campaigning.
It was defeated by a vote of 12-26. The bill was finally approved by a vote of 26-12-4.
With 5 p.m. class approaching, the remaining two bills regarding the election complaint process and SGA election packet were tabled.