As SGA resignations increase, officials discuss term length requirement

by Katie Prisco-Buxbaum / Beacon Staff • January 26, 2012

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A week after the class of 2013 president resigned, two more Student Government Association officials stepped down Tuesday, prompting discussion on requiring representatives to complete their terms.

The Student Government Association unanimously accepted the resignations of vice treasurer Jacob Rheinstein and spiritual commissioner Melissa Pappas at Tuesday’s meeting, bringing the resignation toll for this years joint session to five, and leaving 13 seats on SGA open.

Rheinstein said he stepped down because of his inability to fully commit to the SGA due to academic responsibilities.

"While I deeply enjoyed learning about student government's role in preserving Emerson's legacy and serving our community, I did not feel as if I was making a significant contribution to merit the time requirements while also balancing an internship at the state house and four rigorous classes," said Rheinstein, a junior political communication major.

Pappas, a sophomore visual and media arts major, also cited class conflicts as her reason for stepping down. She served on SGA for seven weeks.

“I was very disappointed to leave SGA because of a class time conflict, but I fully support SGA and am working to find a replacement,” said Pappas, in an email to the Beacon. “I hope they have a very successful year, and I want the student body to know that while I no longer have a title with SGA that I am fully available to answer any questions anyone may have about Emerson Christian Fellowship or the christian faith.”

SGA chief justice Adriana Guida said she believes that although there is great value in having positions served full-term, she understands that students don’t always foresee scheduling conflicts.

“I would venture to say that most of the resignations that have happened this year...have been because people who were in positions legitimately felt that they could not serve their constituents fairly going forward,” said Guida in an email to the Beacon.“Personal issues, class conflicts, these things happen. Life happens. We’re students, and the primary point of being here is to graduate having received the best education that we can, which might include leaving extra-curricular behind in favor of a class, or mental/personal health. And while SGA is very important, it is still that, an extra-curricular.”

Current SGA President Tau Zaman said the current plan to address the resignation issue is to create a stricter awareness to applicants of the time commitment, length of the term, and responsibilities of members.

Zaman said a main issue facing the organization is the lack of interest in running for office among students, which prevents the creation of a rule pertaining to term length because it could further discourage students to run.

“No one is frothing at the mouth to be commissioner x, y, or z,” said the junior political communication major.

Without a high level of involvement, Zaman said he would rather students be a part of SGA for as long as they can to give the students a voice.

According to Zaman, a candidate to fill the spot of external programs commissioner will be reviewed at the next joint session meeting.

SGA secretary Christina Muniz said during a the SGA meeting she would rather have a position filled for a short time than not at all and that classes come first.

“I understand why [some members] are disappointed that people are resigning, but they have to understand that we came to school first and foremost to learn and attend classes. We are paying to be a student,” said the junior marketing major in an interview with the Beacon. “There has only been one person in a very long time to be consistent class president and that was Brittany Perro, and following her is Jon Allen. I understand the need to have consistency, but if there is no one to fill position, I would rather have people be there half the semester than no one at all.”

Guida said any spots that are currently open will be filled according to the SGA constitution, and in cases where it’s applicable, class constitutions. This means having the class of 2013 president appoint a new vice president and senator, and having Zaman appoint commissioners.

“This also depends on getting interest, however, something that we have struggled with recently,” said the senior writing, literature and publishing and political communication double major. “We need to find where the gap is forming between us and students who are willing and wanting to get involved in student government.”