At its hybrid in-person and Zoom meeting March 3, Ball State’s Student Government Association (SGA) voted to eliminate slates in future SGA elections and President Connor Sanburn gave his “State of the Senate” address.
After Sanburn’s “State of the Senate” address, senators looked over an amendment proposing to eliminate slates in the upcoming SGA elections.
The senate was divided on this issue, with some senators feeling that because all other Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools follow this model, Ball State should as well. Others argued eliminating slates would make it harder for the executive board to work together.
“This bill, if it passes, has the potential for a slate to come into office with completely different views,” senator Joseph Gassensmith said. “Nothing would get done and almost nothing would pass onto the senate.”
Senator Trent McKenzie disagreed with Gassensmith and said he believes this amendment should pass.
“When we went through the amendment hearings on both of my pieces last month, a lot of the argumentation I heard about why it shouldn’t pass is ‘No other MAC school does this,’” McKenzie said. “Well, senators who were saying that last month, where’s your support for this amendment?”
McKenzie also said he believes that passing this amendment will increase voter turnout, which he said was 2.3 percent this year compared to 8 percent last year.
Chief Administrator Gina Esposito said she fears if this bill is passed, it will be harder for executive board members to do community outreach because they will not be with a slate.
This also raised a question among senators about the treasurer and chief administrator positions, wondering if they would get as much attention as the presidential and vice presidential candidates during election seasons.
Senator Miryam Bevelle said the treasurer and chief administrator already do not get as much attention as the presidential and vice presidential candidates during the election, with the presidential and vice presidential candidates getting more talking time in slate debates.
After a discussion on whether to round up or down the vote percentage, the amendment passed 21-11, with two abstentions — narrowly passing the required two-thirds majority vote. The amendment will take effect in the 2021-22 school year.
“State of the Senate” Address
President Connor Sanburn also gave his “State of the Senate” address at the March 3 meeting.
Sanburn discussed six of Bold’s platform points: free menstrual hygiene products, motion-sensored lighting, updating the map app, expanding the metered parking app, the Counseling Center partnership and reducing plastic bag use in the dining halls.
The free menstrual hygiene product initiative is operational and is beginning in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. Each product dispenser has a QR code that leads to a survey for people to fill out and answer questions about how to make the program better.
Sanburn also discussed exploring motion-sensored lighting, updating the map app and expanding the metered parking app, all of which Bold has decided to discontinue as platform points.
According to Sanburn, these three points have not been a priority of Bold’s, and because of that, slate members have decided to remove them and further their focus on points that are a priority.
“While these points did not fit in the landscape this year...these points will live on past us, and have a life of their own through new student organizations or senators,” he said.
Sanburn also updated senators on Bold’s partnership with the Counseling Center, which he said is “finally taking shape.”
The executive board is hosting a virtual presentation on combating anxiety with the Counseling Center, as well as exploring funding for a Mental Health First Aid certification program for members of SGA and Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL).
“This would be a great opportunity for members of both of these communities to be allies for each other’s emotional needs, and to provide the necessary resources in times of need,” Sanburn said.
The last platform point Sanburn addressed was reducing plastic bag use in dining halls.
He announced that on March 5, the executive board will be meeting with Karen Adkins, senior director of auxiliary services, to discuss how SGA can further support sustainability programs in the dining halls.
In addition to addressing platform points, Sanburn discussed upcoming university study days and congratulated the Strive slate on their victory in the 2021 election.
Student recommendations for virtual learning
Senators were also introduced to a resolution regarding student recommendations for virtual learning. Authors of the resolution feel student feedback is “merely a suggestion for the higher education enrichment process and not a requirement of faculty.”
This resolution urges the deans of each college to take student recommendations seriously as a way to continue improving virtual learning.
The resolution will be voted on at the March 10 Zoom meeting.
SGA also voted on an amendment establishing a survey committee that was proposed at the Feb. 17 meeting. The survey committee will receive surveys from students about their grievances on campus and try to help fix them.
The amendment passed 33-1, with no abstentions.
Senators made their nominations for president pro tempore for the 2021-22 school year. Only senator T Nakamura accepted the nomination.
Senators also heard from two students hoping to join the at-large caucus.
Will Rose, sophomore computer information systems major and member of the Association of Information Technology Professionals, was approved 31-0, with one abstention.
Senators also heard from Brooke Fuller, freshman architecture major. She was approved 29-1, with one abstention.
Treasurer Amanda Mustaklem also proposed to update SGA’s budget, adding money toward the free feminine hygiene products and spring break initiatives. The money is reallocated from the funds for heated bus lamps, which Mustaklem said will not be happening before Bold leaves office.
The senate approved the update 31-0, with one abstention.
SGA’s next meeting will be March 10 over Zoom, with the following week as an optional in-person meeting.