Next Wednesday, WVU students will vote in a special election to either approve or deny changes to the Student Government Association’s constitution.
The amendment will add a succession protocol for filling vacant seats in the SGA student assembly when there is not a next-highest vote getter available to take the seat. Currently, 15 seats are sitting open in WVU’s legislative body — 12 college representative seats and three student senator seats.
The new system, if approved, calls for vacancies to be filled by a presidential appointment from students recommended for the open positions by the Select Committee on Legislative Vacancies and Appointments, according to the resolution.
The committee will consist of five members: the student body vice president, two members of the student assembly and two SGA executives appointed by the president.
When a vacancy arises, the committee will have 24 hours after it is formed to send out a public notice to the student body, outlining the application and appointment process. Students will have four days after the public notice to apply for the open positions, and the committee will have four days after applications are received to interview candidates.
After the interview process, the student body president will have 24 hours to either approve or deny the committee’s recommendation, and make the appointment, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Student Assembly.
This is meant to address an “emergency situation,” according to President Pro Tempore Tyler Brewster, who presented the resolution to SGA at Wednesday’s meeting.
In order to vote on anything, SGA must retain a quorum with two-thirds of its legislative body, and due to standing vacancies and recent resignations, the branch is getting dangerously close to below that threshold, according to SGA Attorney General Jarred Cannon. This is meant to safeguard against that and ensure — even if there are future resignations — there will be a process in place to fill them so legislative operations don’t cease.
The amendment will only take effect if there are open seats in the assembly without next-highest vote getters, and is meant to act as a contingency plan for future administrations if they face the same challenge this administration currently is, said Student Body President Blake Humphrey.
If the amendment is approved by the student body next Wednesday, Humphrey and SGA Chief of Staff Adila Fathallah hope to begin work to fill the open senate seats by the Oct. 4 SGA meeting.
The open student representative seats will stand vacant until the regularly scheduled election in October, where Fathallah and Humphrey hope more students will come out to represent their colleges.
Fathallah, who worked as the SGA Elections Chair last year, said this is one of many steps necessary to address student apathy, which has plagued SGA elections for the last couple years.
“If we make the reforms were trying to, [a lack of student interest in holding SGA office] shouldn’t be a problem,” Fathallah said.
Other reforms planned include looking at the elections code with SGA Attorney General Jarred Cannon to abolish the ticket system for campaigning, initiate online voting and hand over the position of elections chair to the Office of Student Engagement.
With the special election looming next week, though, the student assembly voted to appoint Abbi Yachini as the interim elections chair. Yachini is currently serving as SGA’s chief operations officer, but SGA bylaws do not prohibit executive members holding two positions at once.
Voting will take place Wednesday, with polling locations on both the Evansdale and Downtown campuses. Students should look for an official announcement to their MIX accounts on Monday.
Also Wednesday, the student assembly:
Unanimously passed a resolution sponsoring “Campus Conversation: Let’s Talk Sexual Assault, Consent and Title IX”
Unanimously approved appointing Trent Smith to the SGA Bureau of Finance
Unanimously approved appointing Khufu Edwards as the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
Unanimously approved appointing Nick Imes as the Regional Campus Liaison. Imes, who was the former student body president at Potomac State, will work on coordinating with the SGAs at WVU’s other campuses throughout the state, like Pot State and WVU Tech.
Unanimously approved appointing five members to the Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The members are as follows: Tegan Vratcher, Mike Hamrick, Tyrone Swen, Kassandra Colon and John Kay.