Candidates care to listen
SGA members elaborate on importance of hearing from students and administration. | Courtesy of Sierra MCcoy
Samuel Jackson still remembers the wisdom President Barry Corey imparted to him last year when he was running for vice president of Student Government: learn how to listen to understand, not just to respond.
the value of hearing
This advice holds true for student vice presidents and senators alike as they learn the value of hearing and advocating for students through their roles as student ambassadors.
“I love getting to know people, and I love knowing their passions for things,” said Ali Fryer, senior psychology major and senator of Horton Hall North. “Being able to share that through senate is something I enjoy a lot.”
With elections fast approaching, SGA members prepare for the season by adding solutions to unopposed candidacies and reflecting on the processes they went through to achieve the positions they currently hold.
After noticing that senate members in years past have obtained their positions automatically due to unopposed campaigns, Jackson proposed the uncontested candidates go through an interview process to earn their candidacy.
“It’s not very empowering to you if you are the only person who decides you want to run for a dorm constituency and no one else runs against you,” Jackson said. “You’re automatically confirmed in a place of apathy in a lot of ways.”
Mainly, this will allow the candidates the pleasure of feeling success and honor in their win, and additionally, ensures each dorm has the most qualified senator. However, that does not represent the biggest concern, since most students who run work diligently in their positions.
“That’s a lot more empowering for a person from the start. It helps them get their work done better,” Jackson said. “The heart of it is not to say the people who were confirmed just by an uncontested race were unqualified. It’s more of wanting people to feel empowered in their work from the beginning.”
more planning and networking
For each of the positions in SGA, the candidates must submit an application and then begin planning their campaign. Often the current senator will advertise the option of running for senate in the weekly newsletter.
“Pretty much, it is just the basic application process,” said Sierra McCoy, senator of Hope Hall South. “Then also, I had to get a certain amount of signatures from the Biola campus.”
When it comes to campaigning for the positions, many senator candidates host a full campaign with a team and social media accounts, but some do not.
“I technically had a semi-campaign team prepared if I had to be opposed,” McCoy said. “So I did have a group of people I knew for sure would support me, but you don’t have to as a senator. It just depends on how passionate you are about it.”
For both the presidency and vice presidency, the campaign process requires more planning and networking. Although, in the past some have successfully held a last minute campaign for the executive offices. For Jackson and Jess Snow, the process started months before the election.
“Campaigning was amazing,” Jackson said. “You learn a lot about yourself and how you operate.”
Student government serves as a pipeline
Regardless of whether or not the contenders have a campaign team, they cannot advertise until the actual week of the election, but they can unofficially gather a support system from among their friends.
“What was key to campaigning was going around and actually connecting with students,” said Andrew Morgan, sophomore philosophy major and senator of Horton Hall South. “I knocked on every door in South Horton. It was a fun but stressful process.”
When senate election day arrives, each dorm will have a poll table in the lobby for students in that dorm to vote at. Each senate candidate will be strictly forbidden from passing anywhere near the vicinity of the poll table during election hours.
In previous years, students elected the members of senate offices and executive offices at different times, but this year they will share an election week, according to Jackson.
Once the students fill the offices, they work as advocates for the student body. All of the positions require weekly duties. The senators attend three-hour senate meetings every Thursday and send out a newsletter at the beginning of each week, informing the dorm residents of any changes the senate agreed upon.
“But even more, it’s engaging with people and learning to listen and understand and talk on their behalf,” Jackson said. “I see that as an importance of the organization for us.”
Most members feel passionate about Biola, its community, speaking up for students’ needs and maintaining a peaceful relationship with administration.
“We actually have an administration that is really, really good at working with us and really concerned with what we want,” Jackson said.
The student senate and executives actively work to provide the voice and opinion of the campus population to the administration. They negotiate and suggest ideas for the students so as to ensure the best possible college experience for each student.
“Student government serves as a pipeline between the students and administration that’s really essential to good relations between both,” Morgan said.