Missouri State’s Student Government Association opened running for executive positions within the organization to the entire student body, stripping away a former requirement requiring candidates to maintain “good standing” within the association.
The governmental body hopes this will foster a more inclusive and diverse range of individuals, who are comfortable sharing their voice. This was a goal of Student Body President Brandon McCoy and Student Body Vice President Caitlin Schaefer at the start of their campaign according to previous Standard reporting, but Chief Elections Commissioner Sam Siebert recently implemented this.
On Oct. 17 at SGA’s Senate meeting, Siebert, senior mass media major, presented the updated elections code to the senate – something debated for the past few weeks Senator Emily Coe, senior biology major said.
Several changes were made to the Elections Code for SGA, including the striking of Article 2, Section I which opened the ability to run for elections for student body president, vice president and senior class president.
Several other changes included: moving Bear Blitz from the week of elections to the week before elections; extending the amount of time polls are open during election periods; removing three pre-approved platform topics candidates are allowed to discuss with students during petitioning; changing maximum budget for student body president from $1,800 to $1,500 and vice president from $1,000 to $750; and extending time of “chalking” to the end of the voting week.
After presenting the code, senators quickly moved into a time of discussion surrounding the striking of Article 2, Section I, as this stipulation was added just two years ago.
Alex Durbin, junior psychology major, said he remembers when SGA implemented this stipulation into the code “vividly” two years ago, because as a student just entering Missouri State and SGA, he felt his vote of approval for the section was “something that mattered.”
“So essentially I walked into the session (on Oct. 17) completely ready to fight to keep the legislation that required candidates to be a part of Senate to run,” Durbin said.
He continued to say that those on the Executive Branch need to know how to run SGA after they are voted in.
The main argument surrounding the Elections Code embodied striking the section. Sophomore economics major Mackenzie Morris said students who have not been in SGA before may not know parliamentary procedure. Siebert reassured the senators there are many organizations outside of SGA that use “parli pro.”
Following the motion to amend the striking of the section, Siebert said it is not SGA’s place to judge the worthiness of candidates for election — that should be up to students voting. She spoke on her idea of inclusivity in student government after the meeting.
“The president and the vice president don’t just represent Senate, they represent the entire student body,” Siebert said. “Their official title is not ‘president of Student Government Association,’ it is ‘student body president.’ So that was another reason why we want to make it open to all of the student body and not just student government.”
Durbin said this point of inclusivity “resonated” with him, and made him rethink his argument.
“I wildly agreed with the fact that more diverse individuals running for these positions may happen if they don’t have to be in SGA,” Durbin said, “a somewhat intimidating organization for those not familiar with it beforehand.
“From there I listened to the debate completely unsure which side I felt more drawn towards — the necessity I felt that the candidates should be familiar with the organization before running it, or the idea that more diverse leadership could come forward if we took out this extra requirement.”
Two members from the executive branch spoke after the debate. Dillon Cordell, freshman business major and chief financial officer, said he thinks this change might attract transfer students who have knowledge coming in to the university but haven’t had a chance to join SGA.
Isaiah Villareal, junior management major and sergeant at arms, said if this is not passed by the senate, the student body will have unopposed candidates running for a long time, a current concern of the association.
Four of the six last races for president and vice president have been unopposed, McCoy said.
Senator Tara Becker, senior history major, said she supported the amendment as she recognizes the association has had unopposed candidates run.
“SGA is the voice of the student body of Missouri State University and we have to remember that not everyone walks along the same path,” Becker said. “I hope that this will make the election a more inclusive process and that these changes will make this upcoming election a very competitive one.”
McCoy, senior economics major, said this is a change he’s been pushing for, but he doesn’t think it will impact the next election.
“The challenge of inspiring and motivating campus leaders to run for offices takes a lot more than a small rule change,” McCoy said.
He said passion is key to making the MSU experience better, especially for students interested in getting involved.
“The most impactful thing you can do is ask the students around you what they want to see happen, and then ask yourself how you can help make that a reality,” McCoy said.