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- Everything That’s Going On With the New Student Government - September 25, 2018
story | Ng Jun Jie, Contributing Reporter
photo | Ruchel Phua, Contributing Photographer; Jolene Lum ‘19
The Elections Committee has recently announced the results for the 5th Student Government elections. Of the 17 available posts in the Executive and Senate branches, 13 were filled while four remained vacant.
In the Executive branch, no student accepted their nomination for the Director of Enterprise post, while more votes went to No Vote than to the sole candidate for Director of Finance. In the Senate, no one accepted their nomination for 2019 Class Representative.
Additionally, Scott Chua ’20 and Agatha Tan ’20 each won two positions. Tan accepted the role of Vice-President of Student Activities and decided not to take up the role of Director of Student Organisations, leaving the position empty. Chua, who won the Presidency, decided to also take up the role as Vice-President of Student Life.
Chua explained in the President’s Address sent out on Sept. 14 that his decision was made “upon recommendation of the Directors of Student Life and with the blessing of the Executive branch.”
The Student Government Constitution assigns the President the power to “appoint members of the student body as they deem fit to occupy vacant … positions.” On Sept. 13, The Octant reached out to Chua to understand how he decided on who to appoint to vacant seats. He addressed the issue in the same President’s Address.
“I first opened a poll to the elected Executive and Senate representatives to ask them who they thought would be suitable for those roles. Vice Presidents Jolene Lum, Agatha Tan and I went over the list, considered all the nominees, and spoke with some of them. We chose candidates who had relevant prior experience, a direction for the portfolio, and synergy with the elected government representatives,” said Chua.
In the minutes recorded for the Senate’s meeting on Sept. 10, these appointments were ratified unanimously by Senators present for the meeting.
Attending Senators and Directors also debated about the expansion of the Senate. A bill was introduced to allow the appointment of more senators representing interest groups instead of classes. Currently, the Senate consists of Class Representatives and the Speaker.
Taesun Shim ’22, Class Representative for the Class of 2022, spoke against the bill. He was concerned that these senators may not have the intention to serve the student body. Darren Lee ’20, Class Representative for the Class of 2020, echoed Shim’s concern that students may advocate for “playful” issues, such as alcohol and partying.
Shim was also concerned that the bill may favour upperclassmen, who are usually the ones leading student organisations; the inclusion of interest-based Senators would hence decrease representation of freshpeople.
A motion was also introduced to reinterpret the constitution to allow for the appointment of Deputy Class Representatives. The rationale is that more Senators result in more robust debate in the Senate; one Representative cannot adequately represent the entirety of their class. Currently, a candidate has to run in the election for Class Representative, and only becomes a Deputy Class Representative if they pass the quota for the position and rank second or third.
In this election, for instance, Don Sandev Ferdinando ’22 was elected as Deputy Class Representative for the Class of 2022; the quota for this position was 36.25 votes due to low participation from the Class of 2022. Shim won 45 votes in the election before votes excess of the quota was transferred, some of which allowed Ferdinando to cross the quota.
Given that only 18% of the Class of 2022 voted for Shim, he acknowledged that the “diverse demographic is challenging to represent.” Nonetheless, he intends to use a feedback form to gauge what the class demands are and may “give up [his] personal views to concur with the majority” of the class.
In total, 5,713 votes were cast for 12 contested Executive seats, of which 11 were filled. In the Senate race, 713 votes were cast for four contested seats.
This article was written with additional information from Elections Committee member Betina K. Choa.
Students interested in understanding the issues discussed by the Student Government may visit OrgSync to read the Senate minutes or attend weekly Senate meetings on Mondays, 7.30 pm at the STORR Room.