Student Government Association has filled a slew of empty positions this semester, including Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Commissioner and External Programs Commissioner. SGA President Scott Fisher attributed this influx of dedicated members to renewed student interest in the group and its work.
“Now that SGA’s doing so much, people really want to get involved,” Fisher said in an interview.
He said most of the positions being filled this semester already existed, but were not filled in the past because there were no applicants.
In the first meeting of the semester, Fisher appointed Natalie Zhou, freshman marketing communication major as SGA secretary, replacing Rachael Bralow, who is studying abroad at Kasteel Well this semester.
The SGA secretary is responsible for taking detailed minutes at SGA meetings, Fisher said, so SGA members and other students can have access to information about the group’s work.
Fisher said Zhou was the only applicant for the secretary spot.
Adriana Guida, freshman writing, literature and publishing major, was named GLBT commissioner at the same meeting.
Those appointments will be followed in the coming weeks by three more probable appointments. He chose Jacob Barela, junior communication studies major, as external programs commissioner, a position which was created by the SGA last year.
Fisher also appointed Christina Campbell, a sophomore cinematography major, as off-campus commissioner, a position vacated by junior Rosalind Fraser, who assumed the role of communication studies senator this year, and Lauren Zaniboni, a sophomore marketing communication major, as athletics commissioner.
The approval of these appointments will be made at the discretion of SGA’s Commissioners Council.
The council is a group of non-voting members within the organization that works parallel to the Student Senate. These two groups together form the greater joint session of the SGA. Commissioners are installed by appointment; candidates are chosen by the president and then must be approved with a two-thirds vote of the SGA, Fisher said. Each represents a particular student interest or constituency, such as transfer student commissioner, Greek life commissioner, and service learning commissioner.
SGA Vice President Maude Okrah said the Commissioners’ Council holds separate meetings but do not have a vote.
Currently the SGA lists 12 commissioner positions, four of which are currently empty. Barela, Campbell, and Zaniboni would fill three of these spots, leaving only the position of spiritual life commissioner vacant.
“I have a lot of confidence in all three of the appointments,” Fisher said.
Fisher said he hopes to create two additional spots this semester: a commissioner of student health and safety, and what he said might be called a commissioner of college affordability. Both of these new positions would need to be approved by a joint session of SGA. The health and safety commissioner, Fisher said, would deal with such issues as the college’s alcohol policy, sex education and public safety matters.
An affordability commissioner would address both SGA and administration spending, said Fisher, who stressed that the cost of an Emerson education is an important issue to him.
“I think that its important in these economic times for everyone to keep in mind that we need to spend responsibly.” he said. “I think it would be good for somebody to be there when there’s spending going on.”
Associate Dean of Students and SGA Advisor Sharon Duffy said in an interview that there is no typical rate for the number of new SGA appointments in a given year or semester.
“It really varies year to year,” Duffy said. She cited hot topics on the SGA agenda, applicant interest, and the advertisement of open positions as reasons for increases in appointees at different times.
Though Fisher declined to say whether he would run again, in accordance with a rule against campaigning prior to mid-March, he did take time to reflect on his tenure as SGA president.
Fisher said he has started to see his time spent as president pay off.
“Everything’s starting to fall into place as far as big changes getting a move on,” he said. “Because these things I’m trying to do, they’re big changes.”