The Union chapter of East Central College’s Student Government Association (SGA) will be holding elections for Fall 2017-Spring 2018 executive officers beginning on Mon., April 17, and running through Fri., April 21.
Officers will be at a table with the ballot box, collecting votes, in both Buescher Hall and the Café during their regular office hours. Students can also vote at the SGA Falcon Fest booth on Shook Lawn, Wed., April 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For ECC, SGA serves a powerful role for the students.
“SGA is the ‘king club,’” Student Activities Coordinator and SGA adviser Courtney Henrichsen said. “It’s the club that oversees all the other clubs and their activities. They disperse seed money each semester as well as facilitate and coordinate collaborative efforts between clubs.”
In addition to regulating East Central’s clubs, Student Government acts as a liaison between the students and administration.
“They allow a forum for students to come and express concerns, needs and interests about what is going on here at the college,” Henrichsen said. “The executive officers then take that feedback directly to administration.”
The SGA Student Senate meets each Friday in Hansen Hall, Room 286 at 1:30 p.m. All students are welcome to attend.
“We [SGA] are [the students’] most direct voice to administration and are eager to help and inform any student that needs it,” SGA President Aiden Worley said.
Worley, who plans to transfer to the University of Missouri, St. Louis in Fall 2017 in the hopes of attaining a bachelor’s degree in business, looks back at the work SGA has done during his presidency with a sense of fondness.
“It’s been a true journey, and I’ve learned a lot,” Worley said. “I lead people, held events and did my best to mediate between the student body and administration in the hopes of improving life for the students.”
Since Worley is not running for reelection next year, there are two new hopefuls in the running for president of SGA: Melissa Yetkin and Mark Williams.
Yetkin is a military veteran and currently studying business administration at ECC. Her involvement with student government stemmed from public service.
“I started by helping a fellow student and then ended up being voted in as volunteer SGA Secretary,” Yetkin said. “I have always liked helping people in need. I have been volunteering since I was 10, beginning with Civil Air Patrol.”
Yetkin, who currently serves as Vice President of SGA, felt running for President was a natural progression. She hopes to continue acting as a voice for the students.
“I believe being responsive to the student body’s concern is the best way to identify priorities,” Yetkin said. “Students should vote for me for because I get things done, am honest to a fault and know most students, faculty, and staff.”
The other contender for president, Williams is a history major with plans of going into a career in teaching. An ongoing interest in government and politics drove him to get involved with student government.
“I saw the SGA posters on the walls, and I thought that I would just sit in on one of the meetings,” Williams said. “When I did, I realized it was something I wanted to further explore.”
After regularly attending meetings and becoming a voting senator, Williams decided to run for president because some of the issues important to him had not been addressed. Motivated by a wish for change, his three most important points served as the foundation for his presidential campaign.
“First, we need to do something about the outrageously high cost of books,” Williams said. “Second, we need to bring higher education to the college by offering bachelor’s degrees. Right now, we’re basically an airport where people come in and go out. We’re not keeping the bright, young minds here in Franklin County. We’re exporting them off to St. Louis and Columbia. Third, we should have a tradition that we are grounded in. Colleges, at their core, are for arts and humanities. It’s good that we have STEM programs, but we shouldn’t be trying to cut the arts or music. We should be supporting them and bringing attention back to those areas.”
Applications for executive office positions were due on April 7, but there have been no nominees for Vice President or Public Relations Officer. Applications for these executive offices will be reopened and taken at the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester.
The vice president, the supporting role to the president, is required to attend blood drives, new student orientation, graduations and other events held on campus. The public relations officer, who does marketing and communications for SGA, is encouraged to attend but are not as strictly told how much time to dedicate to the organization. At the end of the year, Vice President receives a $1000 scholarship, and Public Relations Officer receives $500.
The lack of applications for these positions is a result of a lack of student involvement with SGA.
“This is one of the lowest attending semesters that I have seen in my four semesters here,” Henrichsen said. “Last semester, we had between 17 and 22 regularly attending students. We currently have around five or six.”
Yetkin believes that this low attendance problem is a reflection of this year’s scheduling changes.
“With classing being cut back on Friday’s, I would like to change meeting days and times in order to get more students to attend,” Yetkin said.
Williams, on the other hand, believes the issue lies in a deeper-rooted problem.
“Why don’t we have 30 or 40 regularly attending students?” Williams said. “Is it because people think Student Government doesn’t actually do anything? If that’s the case, I don’t really blame them. Student Government hasn’t done much aside from activities and Falcon Fest this past year. These events only last a day or two. I want to do something more concrete… Right now, we’re not living up to our full potential. Maybe we just need a new face and fresh energy to turn things around.”
Yetkin or Williams will be faced with the task of recruiting students to take part in the student government organization, and it will be up to the student body to decide which candidate will represent them and bring improvements to the East Central College campus.