New SGA board hopes to raise student involvement

Graphic by Leah Devorak Next year’s Student Government Association, Residence Hall Association and Commuter Council elections took place Feb. 16. Almost 1,300 students cast ballots in the election, up from 1,000 voters last year and only 950 in 2014. The new student leaders will take office at the end of the spring semester. Several election winners said getting more students involved in campus activities will be a priority for next year, as will transparency, fiscal responsibility and helping lower-income students.

Graphic by Leah Devorak
Next year’s Student Government Association, Residence Hall Association and Commuter Council elections took place Feb. 16. Almost 1,300 students cast ballots in the election, up from 1,000 voters last year and only 950 in 2014. The new student leaders will take office at the end of the spring semester. Several election winners said getting more students involved in campus activities will be a priority for next year, as will transparency, fiscal responsibility and helping lower-income students.

By Kaye Burnet | News Editor

On Feb. 16, almost 1,300 students cast ballots to elect the next year’s leadership of the Student Government Association, the Residence Hall Association and the Commuter Council. The votes resulted in a mixed-party SGA executive board, which will be lead by incoming President-elect James Daher from the Forward Party.

Daher, a sophomore economics major, intends to make student involvement, on-campus housing and the affordability of clubs and organizations a priority for his year in office. According to Daher, he intends to continue the SLIP book loan program, which allows students to borrow University Core textbooks for free, and increase fundraising to benefit lower-income students.

“One thing I want to work on is making certain things, clubs and activities, available to students who cannot afford it,” Daher said. He said he is currently looking into ways to create a scholarship program that would help students pay dues for organizations such as professional fraternities and honor societies.

Daher will be joined on the board by the next Vice President of Student Life, Carly Koza of the United Party; the next Vice President of Finance, Zachery West of the Forward Party and the next Vice President of Communications, Rachel Gerstein. Zachary Galloway of the Forward Party will return in his current role as Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Galloway said the biggest challenge he will face in the 2016-2017 school year is the changing needs of students. He said students can expect him to work for continuing improvements in Gumberg Library and to help them resolve problems within their academic programs.

According to Daher, his first priority as president will be to reach out to clubs and organizations, such as Greek Life, to encourage more students to be involved in student government.

“The first thing I want to do with SGA is go to organizations and clubs and talk to them, as what their concerns are, and use it as a recruiting tool as well,” Daher said. “Because if we have a full SGA senate, then that’s the best way to get the true voice of the students.”

Koza hopes to use her connections in Greek Life to get more students involved in campus life, she said.

“I want to get everyone involved and get everyone excited about participating, because I think we can address a lot of student concerns on a student-to-student basis without having to go through administrators,” Koza said.

She plans to form new positions in the SGA’s Organization Oversight Committee that will be filled by members of large student groups, such as Circle K and Greek Life. To reach students who are not part of these large groups, she plans to send out monthly email questionnaires where students can voice their concerns and vote on activities that they want to see on campus.

After the fall 2015 controversy over the use of SGA funds to install a ring statue outside Rockwell Hall, incoming Vice President of Finance Zachery West said he plans to keep students informed about SGA actions.

“I plan on being as fiscally responsible as possible in order to help ensure that SGA as an organization will be in a position to best serve Duquesne students,” West said.

Brandon Addeo contributed reporting.

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