Hannah Steyn, Assistant News Editor
The 2021-2022 Student Government Association election results were released last week. Among many other positions, the elected president and chief justice were Sophomore Katherine Hawley and Sophomore Randall Chiera respectively.
Bethany VanBenschoten, the SGA advisor, said that despite the election taking place in the midst of a COVID-affected semester, there was a surprisingly large response rate with the intent of candidacy forms. The election also went much the same as it would have in a normal semester.
“We usually do online elections anyway, and this semester we were also given permission to have in-person elections, too,” VanBenschoten said. “That just means we set up a laptop with the voting form, but it catches more peoples’ attention when it’s in person.”
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Campaigns for the candidates ran roughly three weeks between the time they submitted their intent of candidacy, approval and the day of the election. Campaigning doesn’t run in conjunction with the election.
Katherine Hawley, the elected president of the SGA, was previously a senator and the communications director for the association. One thing that Hawley hopes to accomplish in the coming semester is to rebuild a sense of camaraderie among the members of the SGA.
“One thing that’s made the Senate really hard this year is because we’ve been completely virtual, there’s less of a community within the senate so it’s been really hard to keep students engaged and passionate,” Hawley said.
Next semester, Hawley would like to reemphasize student engagement within the community, to bump the SGA back to where they were pre-covid, and bring some life back to Utica College’s campus.
“Additionally, this semester, we’ll be building off of what we have accomplished this year,” Hawley said.
These accomplishments include the passing of The Them Act – a piece of legislation to encourage UC to be better about trans rights and protection, the Student-Centered Infrastructure Bill which will provide financial support for a free speech plaza, a mindfulness native species garden, a community greenhouse and The Green Leadership Act.
“My main goal starting out is to continue those projects and ensure they get completed,” Hawley said. “We’re really excited about it and passionate about it and we need to make sure that the follow-through continues.”
Hawley is also working with former SGA President Michael Delia to get the Civic Engagement Center going.
“This was something that Mike [Delia] and his executive board planned and put the framework into, but with COVID, it was never able to get off the ground,” Hawley said. “It’s a way to engage the SGA and the UC Campus in larger community service around the Utica area.”
Outside of the SGA, Hawley is an animal behavior major, researching developmental behavior in aquatic snails. She is currently the president of Gender Sexuality Alliance and is very involved with queer rights and LGBTQ+ education and the Womyn’s Resource Center.
There will be a second election next semester to fill currently unfilled positions in the SGA.
“We have lots of senator positions open,” VanBenschoten said. “Senators have a vote in senate meetings, they have a voice.”
VanBenschoten encouraged students to get involved in the SGA and said anyone can come to SGA senate meetings. Students who might be considering joining the SGA can hear what’s going on and they can voice opinions.
“The SGA exists to be the voice of the students,” VanBenschoten said. “If you have any concerns, speak to a senator and get loud. That’s the way to make changes on campus.”