Norwich Student Government Association revamps elections

Norwich’s Student Government Association (SGA) will be holding elections starting Sunday, March 30, and they will be done completely online this year, according to SGA President Nick Bailey.

One of the major goals that SGA set out to accomplish this year was to improve SGA elections. In recent years, many students have been confused or uninformed on how to vote, run, or even how SGA works, he said.
“We took it completely out of the executive body’s hands, we appointed Ranson Hudson as the elections ‘controller’. He started the election process and it’s great because he has no bias or stake in the elections, yet has a firm understanding of SGA and the problems SGA faces,” Bailey said.
Hudson worked closely with Bailey and his staff to organize the election. This year, “elections will be electronic, on SurveyMonkey. Each class has four separate elections for their four senators (two from the Corps of Cadets and two from the civilian lifestyle). For President, Vice President, and Treasurer; all students can vote for the executive leaders of SGA.”
Hudson, a 22-year-old junior accounting and finance major, has spearheaded a committee aiming to run a more transparent and efficient election. “The year prior (2013-2014), I had been the assistant treasurer, so I really learned the ins-and-outs of how SGA works. We worked with the CFO of the university and we worked with her on how to spend our budget for the students”, said Hudson.
Bailey, a Utica N.Y. native and senior accounting and finance major, explained his view of the SGA: “We are the liaison from the administration to student body, and we work closely with Jackman Hall,” said. SGA’s most important role with the student body, he added, is to “fund clubs, and generally look out for the interests of the students.”
Many improvements on campus, specifically an improvement in the WCC dining facility and student activities, is due to the successes of SGA, he said. “Last year’s SGA executives burned a lot of bridges last year with the administration. Our goal this year was to rebuild most of those bridges.”
SGA has also “mended fences” with Sodexo. “Last year they wouldn’t work with us at all. They would not give us the information we were asking for, and the more we pushed, the more they pushed back. This year it’s completely different. They have a new manager and a new director of operations and they have just been excellent. They have done so much work with us it has been awesome. We just meet with them periodically and let them know what they were doing right, and what they were doing wrong. We had one really productive meeting several weeks ago and in a few weeks it was turned around, they did an outstanding job.”
Bailey continued on to say, “SGA, in the most simple form, it’s our job to stick our noses in everything to just improve the lives of the students. Some people get annoyed, but most are incredibly receptive to it.”
Bailey has valued his time in SGA as a four-year member and is incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the group.
“The one thing we can improve on is voter turnout for our yearly elections. We were at 44 percent last year. That’s much better than the national average of 12 percent, but we think a school like Norwich can still do better.”
Hudson said he felt the biggest problem getting people to vote was really “a marketing issue.”
“SGA hasn’t been a big deal at this school, which is surprising to me at a school that prizes leadership, and not having a strong SGA is kind of baffling to me,” Hudson said.
“I knew our biggest problem would be voter turnout, and I wanted to reverse that. Also, I wanted to do a new procedure, as two years ago they used paper ballots and the process was slow and opened the door to corruption. This year there is no sorts of corruption that can happen, and Norwich University officials are running it so the election is very transparent.”
In order to combat low voter turnout, Hudson said the GSA has taken many steps to raise awareness of the vote. He noted that, “we put up flyers in every dorm and barracks on campus, as well as the WCC,” as well as sending out an email that is the ballot itself, and setting up a table during lunch hours. The candidates for SGA are also putting out their own information, he noted.
“Oh, and we didn’t forget about the commuters, as there is a little ‘blurb’ about the elections in the commuter newsletter. It will also be passed down through the Corps of Cadets,” he said.
The committee has one sole purpose: to make SGA elections better and thus SGA as a whole better. According to Hudson, “Our committee is made up of a bunch of different activity groups throughout the campus, that aren’t involved in SGA. They provide the full view of the campus. We have people that play varsity sports, double-majors, honor committee members, and even the Norwich Guidon, as well as countless other clubs. We work with General Kelley, advisor to SGA too. Going forward, every major group will be asked for a representative on this committee. It’s a relatively small time commitment, yet a very important aspect to this school, as well as a great resume builder.”
Elections will be held from March 30-April 2 online, and information will be available at a table in the front of WCC during lunch hours.

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