By Shelby Brown–      

Student Government Association election applications are open until Feb. 6 – and incumbents want you to consider running.

SGA represents the students’ voice to the administration. Executive, legislative and judicial officers, along with the Student Activities Board, Engage Serve Lead Board and student councils all fall under the SGA umbrella.

Current SGA President Aaron Vance expects the new SGA president to be a part of some big decisions, including leadership searches and lobbying in Frankfort during a budget year.

“The next SGA president will be sitting in on the next presidential search, the provost search and the search for the new VP for health affairs,” Vance said. “There’s potential to see some changes in restructuring in the top, too. They’re going to be party to those conversations.”

SGA hopes to make running in the upcoming election easily accessible to all students. Executive Vice President Amanda Nitzken said SGA was making strides towards reaching minority students this election. Vance said running for office isn’t as hard as it might seem.

“If you’re not a part of it, it can be an esoteric thing – it’s kind of daunting,” Vance said. “A lot of students don’t realize that to be a senator, it’s not as hard as one might think. You need to get out there and round up a couple hundred votes. It gets harder and harder as you go up through the positions because you represent more people.

SGA also made the application and website more accessible. Last year, they replaced the 21-person slate system with a system that only lets president and EVP candidates run together. The old system gave certain groups advantages over others and has received criticism.

“It’s these kinds of messages that we’re trying to convey to these groups that have historically been somewhat underrepresented in SGA,” Vance said. “On an informational level, we’ve been making sure to get as much information out as possible, with the new voting guide, the new election portal, the new URL, to remove as many barriers as possible.”

“We’ve been encouraging anyone and everyone who’d like to run,” Vance said, “The message of this past week and the Unity Week is that this institution touts itself as the most diverse campus in the state but how do we continue to live up to that make sure that we’re effectuating that in the proper manner? I’m very critical. I think our SGA doesn’t capture that as well as it should.”

Vance spoke highly of the benefits of running for and holding SGA offices.

“It’s been a tremendous educational opportunity on top of the network and connections that I’ve been able to build and grow,” Vance said. “I’ve seen a lot of growth in myself, in my leadership philosophies and in the way I approach things, how to best be the voice for students and how we can ultimately make the most change while working in tight schedules and being students at the same time.”

Campaigning begins Feb. 13, with voting held from Feb. 27 to March 2. Applications for ELSB are due Jan. 29. SAB will begin their application process in March.