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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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Here’s what you need to know about running in the SGA election


The deadline to register as a candidate in the Student Government Association election for the 2019-2020 academic term is Feb. 1.  Here’s everything you need to know about running.

Each spring, graduate and undergraduate students elect the SGA president, vice president and legislative branch — senators elected within each University college to represent those students, with the number of seats determined by enrollment.

Over the course of the year, these students will have a hand in decisions impacting students throughout campus departments. The influence of SGA can be seen throughout recent UH history, including the 2017 switch in food service providers to Chartwells from Aramark, the creation of Cub Camp and this year’s launch of the Cougar Pack, a safety escort service operating from the library.

“We have a lot of influence and are injected into almost every policy-making process of the University. Examples of this include negotiating reasonable expansions in student fees, parking rates and services provided,” said SGA President Cameron Barrett. “We have some explicit power — such as managing our budget — we have a say in certain hiring decisions of the University, and we appoint a lot of people to a lot of places.”

Qualifications

The candidate application can be found on the SGA website and must be filled out and returned to Chief Election Commissioner Bo Harricharran by 7 p.m. Feb 1. Applications can be either dropped off in the SGA office to N220B or emailed to [email protected]

The SGA election is open to all students, but those interested in running for regular Senate seats will be entered into the race for their specific college. Students also have the option to run for At-large Senate seats, divided between undergraduate and graduate students, which represent all members of either the undergraduate or graduate student body.

Additionally, candidates must have at least a 2.0 GPA and be in good disciplinary standing.

Anyone interested in running for president or vice president is encouraged to register, Barrett said, but the election code requires that president and vice president candidates run as a pair.

Candidates for any position have the option to organize and run under a party, but it is not required. In Spring 2018, Barrett ran alongside SGA Vice President Davis Darusman under the “Students Unite” party, but he said parties are not required to have a presidential candidate. Students are able to run for any position as an independent.

Duties

While senate seats are unpaid, the SGA president and vice president — in addition to the members of the executive board that will be appointed after the election — each receive a monthly stipend for the duration of the time they are in office.

For the 2019-2020 term, the president will be paid $800 per month, composed of student fees that are allocated to the organization each year, and the vice president will receive $702.

Senators vote during the final Senate meeting of 2018. SGA senators are expected to attend each meeting, but SGA President Cameron Barrett said new rules allow for Senators in late afternoon classes to arrive late. | Corbin Ayres/The Cougar

According to the SGA bylaws, the duties of senators will include attending all Senate meetings, a number of SGA functions and town hall meetings with the student body each semester. Additionally, Senators will have to serve on a Senate Committee, which ranges from Student Life to Academic Affairs, unless they represent graduate or professional constituencies.

The SGA president has a number of powers within the organization and University, including using funds in the organization’s budget, vetoing legislation and appointing members of the Executive Branch with approval by the Senate.

The vice president, in addition to overseeing University Committees, will perform similar executive duties, including those delegated by the president.

Both the president and vice president are required to hold 20 office hours per week in the SGA office.

All registered candidates will be required to attend a campaign information session on Feb 4. Campaigning for this year’s election will begin that day, and voting will take place through Get Involved from Feb. 21 through Feb. 27.

“Don’t think about what you look like, what your involvement is, how smooth a talker you are, etc. That stuff makes only a small difference in the outcome of the election,” Barrett said. “The best advice I could give to anyone campaigning is to have a message that resonates with the average student, and be prepared to speak with hundreds — if not thousands — of students.”

[email protected]

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