SGA approves addition of student-at-large to Elections Committee

By Zack Sampson, News Staff

Northeastern’s Student Government Association (SGA) aimed Monday to increase general involvement in its elections process as senators passed a proposal to include students-at-large on their Elections Committee.

Before the amendment was passed during the association’s first full-body senate meeting of the year, SGA’s constitution allowed students-at-large to sit in on meetings but not vote. Under the new rule, which was approved  34-10-2, any student who meets all requirements to obtain voting rights — which include attending three of the first five meetings of a semester — will be allowed to vote.

“Elections engage and affect all students at this university,” Elections Chair Taylor Cotter said while introducing the legislation during the meeting. “There’s a substantial number of students-at-large that have significant experience or interest in the elections process who would be equally valuable members of the committee.”

After the meeting, she said the “most serious thing” students-at-large will do as voting members is participate in grievance hearings during spring campaigns.

Cotter said she expects the amendment to really take effect in January since the period to obtain voting rights has passed for fall semester. But she hopes some students will take advantage of it next year and add a variety of perspectives to the committee.

Though the change applies to all members of Northeastern’s undergraduate community, Cotter said she expects most interested students will have some prior experience with SGA as former senators or candidates.

Though the proposal was passed by a clear majority, some senators raised concern during debate about how the change would effect the association’s power and how it might allow for future candidates to stack elections committee with their friends from the general student body.

During question time about the proposal, current student-at-large and last year’s elections chair, Olivia D’Angelo, asked if Cotter had concerns the amendment would make Elections Committee “less of a committee of the senate.” Cotter denied any concerns then and in an interview after the meeting she further said the senate will still have control as it ultimately decides on the elections manual when in a December vote.

Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Josh Coombes said he also had concerns that a candidate could stack the Elections Committee with friends during campaign season, so he voted against the proposal. Though such an effort would be difficult, he said it was not impossible so he had some qualms and hoped voting rights could remain internal.

“I feel like it is one of SGA’s primary responsibilities to run an election, and if students want to be involved in that process, it’s not that hard to be a senator,” Coombes said.

Still, most members of SGA fully support the amendment and hope it will increase student interest in the association.

President Mike Sabo said he would like to see more students involved in the elections process and increased voter participation because of the change.

Cotter agreed, saying that by opening up Elections Committee to all members of the Northeastern community, senators are providing students with a “different way to get involved in SGA.”

Update: A previous version of this story reported an incorrect vote count.