SGA Votes for Structural Changes After Think Tank

By Adam Zielonka

This article was originally published in Issue 9, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (February 18, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.

Student voting to be held on Collegiatelink; dates announced

The Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Board voted 5-0 in favor of several changes to their structure on Monday, Feb. 8. The adjustments include the creation of four new executive board positions, the elimination of class board vice presidents, an expansion of the number and roles of SGA senators and an update of the election process.

The vote came after SGA Executive president Savanna Risser held a “think tank” on Sunday, Jan. 31 with a group of six junior and sophomore SGA officers who had indicated to Risser that they would run for a position for the 2016-17 academic year.

Photo by Adam Zielonka.
Photo by Adam Zielonka.

With committed minds around the table in the SGA office in McShea, Risser laid out several ideas that she and SGA adviser Nick Luchko had formed, looking for feedback and suggestions. Two executive officers attended the think tank and later voted on the changes: executive vice president of student resources Krystina Sabato and executive vice president of student life John Blaisse, both juniors.

“This isn’t my SGA; this is going to be their SGA,” Risser said. “That’s why I had the think tank with everybody that’s returning, because I told them… ‘You’re making my legacy.’”

The vice president of student life position will be dissolved in favor of three positions that Risser believes will divide responsibility more evenly: executive vice presidents of SGA events, of communications and of missions.

The executive VP of SGA events will be concerned primarily with campus-wide events SGA either organizes or assists with, including Formal, Relay for Life and Walk-A- Mile. The communications VP will focus on marketing events, running social media and monitoring the SGA email account.

It’s the executive VP of missions that Risser and Luchko are both most excited about.

“I think it’s going to bring a lot of awareness of what it means to be a student here at DeSales, by working with hopefully the Salesian Center, working with campus ministry, working with all the departments on campus to hopefully explain to students what it means to be a Salesian student,” Luchko said.

A fourth new officer, the parliamentarian, will organize and moderate SGA meetings and take minutes, lifting some of the plentiful responsibility from the executive president’s plate. Risser gives credit for the idea of the parliamentarian, a non-voting position, to Luchko.

“He’s able to see overall more than I am,” Risser, a senior biology major, said of Luchko’s help throughout the process. “He knows what’s coming in five years.”

At the class board level, the new structure calls for the election of six senators regardless of class or residential status, after which the new executive president will nominate three more senators to ensure balance among the classes. These senators will take on the supporting role formerly held by the class vice president, which will be dissolved.

The Feb. 8 vote also cemented a new schedule for SGA elections effective this year. Applications to run for office are due by March 4; after this, the week following spring break is reserved for campaigning. Voting for executive board positions will happen between 9 a.m. on March 21 and 5 p.m. on March 22. For class president and treasurer; voting will take place from 9 a.m. on March 23 to 5 p.m. on March 24. Finally, voting for senators will be from 9 a.m. on March 29 to 5 p.m.on March 30.

“Elections weren’t run as they should have been last year. They could have been run better and the word could have gotten out more, I think,” Risser said, though saying last year’s board still “did a good job.”

All voting will be conducted on CollegiateLink for the rst time. More information on voting will be released in the coming weeks.

The unanimous decisions for each vote portray how sensible the executive board saw the modifications to be.

“By the end they were getting tired of me asking them, ‘Raise your hand if you’re in favor,’” Risser recalled with a genuine laugh.

Even Blaisse supported the dissolution of the VP of student life, his own position, and looked ahead to next year by disclosing he will run for executive president.

“I am excited to see what this new year of SGA will bring under a new executive president next year, for which I am officially announcing my candidacy,” Blaisse said in an email.

Other officers who attended the think tank concurred.

“I believe that these changes to SGA will help us become more known around campus, allow for each member to deepen their involvement in their specific role in SGA and make more students on campus involved and informed about what is going on around campus,” Sabato said.

Similarly to Blaisse, Delaney Burke, the sophomore class vice president and another think tank participant, was happy to see her position dissolved.

“We [needed] to get rid of it so badly, because vice president is just a title,” Delaney Burke “They’re supposed to do things the president tells them to do, but they don’t have any specific job.”

Risser is open to hearing from students with questions or suggestions by emailing her at

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