Fourteen student legislator seats are standing vacant in the Student Government Association's Student Assembly following the announcement of three resignations — two from college representatives and one from a senator — at Wednesday night's meeting.
Student Senator Seth Underwood, Reed College of Media Student Representative Melanie Smith and Health Sciences College Representative Kelsey Morgan all resigned from SGA's legislative branch, citing personal and academic reasons.
"None of them left on ill will," said Shannon Smith, student body vice president, after President Pro Tempore Tyler Brewster announced the resignations and read personal statements from the three now-former assembly members.
These three resignations are now stacked on top of several legislative seats that remain vacant following a lack of candidate interest in last October's College Representative election and March's SGA Student Senate election.
The Student Assembly, which was created last year under former Student Body President Julie Merow, is meant to consist of two student legislative branches: the student senate, which is made up of 15 student senators and two student senators for athletics who are elected by the entire student body, and the college representatives, which consists of two elected representatives from nine of WVU's individual colleges.
Representatives are elected in October, during Homecoming Elections, and last year only nine of the available 18 positions were filled by interested candidates. The other half did not have any students run for them.
Two seats on the student senate remained vacant following March's uncontested SGA election, where about 4 percent of the student body came out to vote.
The current procedure for legislative vacancies in SGA's bylaws calls for the next-highest vote-getter from the election to take the empty seat.
Since there are no other candidates that ran for these seats, they will remain empty.
SGA Attorney General Jarred Cannon and Chief of Staff Adila Fathallah are currently drafting amendments to the current bylaws and elections code to address this issue immediately, meaning there could be changes made within the next month that could lead to the positions being filled.
However, any changes made, Fathallah said, would solely be to address the needs of this year's administration and would not necessarily remain in place for future administrations.
"We need this at this point," said Student Body President Blake Humphrey. "This is a contingency on an emergency that we're facing right now."
Even still, both Fathallah and Humphrey are remaining confident that the apathy that has plagued the organization in the last few years is hopefully being phased out.
The organization's executives have fielded 40 applications for its internship program for this year, as well as more than 100 applications for executive positions last spring, according to Adila Fathallah, SGA chief of staff.
For the next election — student representatives in October — Fathallah said recruitment and outreach is becoming a cardinal priority to encourage individuals to run.
Also Wednesday, the Student Assembly:
- Unanimously approved a resolution to amend SGA bylaws in order to add the positions of an Operations and Administration Officer and a Constituent Affairs and Services Officer to the organization.
- Unanimously approved a resolution to amend SGA bylaws in order to add the position of a Regional Campus Liaison to the organization. This person would work to coordinate communications between WVU's SGA and student governments on WVU's regional campuses, like Potomac State and WVU Tech in Beckley.
- Unanimously approved seven additions to the Bureau of Finance. They are Heleana McFadden, Morgan Stemler, Denali Hedrick, Marc Sanford, Cam Heeter, Zack Levenson, John Zaleski and Aaron Whitlock as auditor.
- Unanimously approved two executive appointments. Johnny McFadden was appointed as the senior Advisor to the President, and Christian Rowe was appointed as Deputy Legislative Director.
SGA meets at 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in Hatfields B of the Mountainlair.