New Era in Student Government:  Campus Power Dynamics

left - Brianna Hall, celebrates victory after being named the 92nd Miss Southern University elect, outside of the Smith Brown Memorial Student Union on Friday, March 25. (Issac Armstrong/DIGEST)

rightStudent Government Association President-elect, Carlos Brister cries tears of joy as the results are being announced outside of the Smith Brown Memorial Student Union on Friday, March 25. (Sydney Fairbanks/DIGEST)

 

As always, election season on the Bluff came with a certain amount of pageantry and campus politics as the students elected new student government officials to represent their interests to the administration. In the most recent rendition of SGA elections however, emotions were at an all-time high as all candidates sought to establish their own eras as student leaders.

In the midst of this year’s election, much controversy has been seen via social media noting student frustration in the elections process, as well as the role that their student leaders play representing their best interests. Much of this controversy stems from the apparent lack of concerts that we will have during this year’s Springfest.

In speaking with Tiffany Freeman, director of Student Leadership & Engagement, she was able to shed light on what the role of elected officials are from a practical sense in this new era of SGA. From a campus activities standpoint, Freeman noted that the SGA President serves on the Campus Activity Board, the representative body that decides large scale campus events such as Homecoming & Springfest. The Campus Programming Board as well as the Special Events Committee, both of which the SGA President is a part of, constructs and amends all student-related activity plans for the campus during a given semester.

“The SGA President [is still] at the head of decision making in terms of Homecoming and Springfest. He just serves on the larger decision making bodies that helps make those decisions,” said Freeman regarding the role that student leadership currently occupies on campus.

Along with all of the normal conversations pertaining to the drama and atmosphere normally associated with election season, this past Friday saw students getting spoilers for this year’s election results as winners were shared on Twitter prior to announcements being made in front of the student union.

While the Election Day process has traditionally been the same in years passed where the Elections Committee comes out in person to announce winners, this past Friday saw results being announced via social media in what many students viewed as a conspiracy of sorts. In the confusion of the afternoon, the other candidates who didn’t win left the announcement venue prior to the official announcement due to these results quickly beginning to circulate social media.

In reality however, campaign results are held on the Simply Voting website during each election’s entire span, making any voter capable of viewing the state of the election at any given time leading up to the elections conclusion. While it’s generally an understood and unspoken agreement that the announcement of election results should be made only by the Elections Committee, this year’s events are an example of why the traditional format of election announcements are important and should be adhered to.

All of the politics of the situation aside however, Southern University did welcome a handful of new student leaders, including a new Miss Southern in Brianna Hall and SGA President in Carlos Brister.

“We’re elated hat an honorable person got this position; she worked really hard and she deserves it,” said Teunna Perry, campaign manager for Brianna’s election team.

Elections season at Southern is always eventful, and this past week’s events have more than lived up to the standard of dramatics going into the new school year. In a world where the power of the majority matters as much as it does in campus politics, this year’s winners proved that if nothing else, they have the backing of the student body in spaces.

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