With Student Government Association (SGA) elections now open on Crimson Connect, Tuesday’s meeting was preempted by a town hall.
The meeting, originally meant to be a debate between candidates, but as all candidates are running unopposed, the format shifted.
The town hall gave candidates Alex Fefolt (history), president; Chris Carrington (political science); chief justice; Jessica Poley (criminology), secretary; and Imani Nelson (communications media), treasurer, the opportunity to outline their visions for the SGA executive board in the coming academic year.
Topics included how to drive recruitment for SGA membership, filling vacant positions in the senate, getting more people involved on campus, bolstering event attendance and even coming up with a theme song for SGA – “Lean on Me” was the consensus choice.
But one topic brought on a considerable amount of controversy, and that was the discussion of SGA executive board salaries.
Kacy Howard, director of external affairs, brought this up during the audience question-and-answer section.
Howard asked whether there were any plans for this incoming executive board to extend payments to her position, as well as the positions of director of internal affairs (currently vacant) and director of public relations (currently held by Cierra Givner).
Howard said she felt it was unfair that they were asked to do equitable amounts of work as other board members without pay.
Fefolt was the only one to respond to this question.
“What I envision next year is directors are not going to be paid,” Fefolt said. “Directors aren’t elected. Really, they’re appointed by the president, and they didn’t have a defined duty.”
Fefolt continued, saying that those in director positions don’t have office hours or “the same amount of responsibilities.” He also said salaries were already creating budget issues for SGA.
“About half the budget goes to officer salaries for student government,” Fefolt said. “Unless we increase the budget, which we would like to try, I don’t know if that should be going for other officer payments, but we do appreciate your work.”
This brought a response from Howard.
“I get that we don’t have office hours, but we’re required to have the same amount of time,” Howard said. “All I’m saying is to consider people’s time and their efforts.”
This led someone from the audience asking about the possibility of gift cards as payment.
Adrianna Branin (junior, political science and religious studies), senator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said she was “kind of divisive” and didn’t have a “perfect answer” regarding the possibility the executive board “lowering or donating some of their salaries back to the organization.”
All candidates agreed that they were not taking these positions for the money and that they’d be willing to eliminate or reduce their salaries.
“I would be willing to give up my salary to go to events [in the budget],” Fefolt said.
“I wasn’t focused on the money in order to do this,” Carrington said. “I used to work at Dunkin’ Donuts and got paid a lot more then I would from this.”
Carrington said he was more focused on “making a change around campus.”
Poley and Nelson gave similar responses.