By Laura de Leon
Student Government Association President Melissa Quintanilla and Vice President Javier Carvajal swore in five senators and appointed two executive members to the cabinet, announcing the results on Facebook Oct. 5.
In an email on Wednesday, Jolene Des Roches, director of student life and wellness and SGA adviser, said senators were elected by a count of about 40 valid votes.
“Half of those votes came from the face-to-face campaign held in the lobby on Wednesday (Sept. 26) and Thursday (Sept. 27),” she said, adding that her student workers kept a tally of voters.
As of Oct. 11, the student body at the university is 4,108, according to the university’s office of admissions and enrollment.
The two executive positions of parliamentarian and treasurer were not on the fall 2012 voting ballot because they are to be appointed by the president and vice president, according to SGA’s constitution.
Sociology junior Melissa Benavidez will serve as parliamentarian and accounting senior Jorge Ramirez will serve as treasurer.
Quintanilla, accounting senior, said Benavidez and Ramirez met all qualifications to serve, including an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 and 3.0 for graduate students and demonstrated an interest in being a part of SGA.
She said that Benavidez was active on the SGA’s Facebook page and attended previous forums.
“Melissa has always been one of the people commenting; she always seemed like she was wanting to get involved,” Quintanilla said.
As parliamentarian, Benavidez will be responsible for keeping their meetings in order and will handle media relations.
She said Ramirez was the only appointee who was able to commit to serving as treasurer.
“I asked several different accounting majors if they would be interested in the treasurer position and they either did not know what SGA was, or they could not make the commitment,” Quintanilla said.
Des Roches said there are still senator positions available. Quintanilla confirmed the openings on Wednesday and said that since voting has ended, a potential candidate may apply but must be nominated by a SGA member and voted in by two-thirds of the Cabinet.
“We want to fill [the positions],” Quintanilla said. “We have a few people in mind that we’re going to appoint.”
According to the SGA constitution, four senator representatives for each school within the university are allowed.
Student forums and representation
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Quintanilla said the goals for SGA include hosting open forums, creating a firm foundation for the university’s future SGA and, one that’s of primary concern, creating an active and reliable communication with the student body.
“I want to get in as many forums as possible,” Quintanilla said.
In the past, SGA has held forums related to students’ needs and concerns. At least one of those forums had impact on administrative policy.
In April 2012, an SGA forum impacted an administrative decision to move to one commencement ceremony per year, cancelling the December commencement. The administration decided to keep the December ceremony after hearing students’ concerns.
Carvajal said, “We want to set up proper forums where we can talk to students in an effective way.”
Speaking on behalf of SGA, he said the organization wants to have forums on a variety of topics and they will depend on students’ concerns.
Offering his own opinion, Carvajal said he is concerned that ebooks are charged to students as a part of tuition and fees, even though not all students use them.
Michelle Martin, E-Book program coordinator confirmed that the E-Book program is an option for instructors to select and provide an online textbook and the fee appears in students’ tuition when they register for the class.
Martin said the textbook fee average is $62, and every class students register for whose teacher has opted for the ebook option will be reflected as a total in the account summary.
The Texas A&M-San Antonio “E-Books” Web page states that students are able to print the textbook with an additional fee through Office Depot. The cost is two cents per page.
“The average price for the printed cook is $10-$12,” Martin said. She said there is always an exception and some books may be longer and will then cost more.
Reaching the student body
Quintanilla said she hopes to get the association in order so they will not have problems in the future and so that the student body will have SGA as an advocate to get their voices heard.
“I think it’s essential that there is a firm foundation, otherwise it’s still going to be disorganized,” Quintanilla said.
Carvajal said they hope to create a smooth transition for the future SGA because the university and student body is going to grow. He said they want to transfer over “a strong foundation, a strong pattern, and a strong constitution.”
Quintanilla said there have been issues with reaching the student body because information is not getting to them and active communication has not been successful in the past.
She said the university and SGA have tried multiple ways to try to inform students about campus activities and issues, but when the students are asked if they are aware or if they are going to attend an event, they don’t know about it.
“We can put as much media out there and as many fliers as we want out there, but it won’t do any good if the student body doesn’t read [those materials].” Quintanilla said. “My goal is to figure out what sparks their interest and what catches their eye.”
Quintanilla said that the student body’s concerns are the reason why SGA exists and their support is “extremely important.”
Student Government Association Fall 2012
President Melissa Quintanilla
Vice President Javier Carvajal
Parliamentarian Melissa Benavidez
Treasurer Jorge Ramirez
Jennifer Faubion, School of Education and Kinesiology
Rebecca Massey, School of Business
Claudia Garcia, School of Business
Brenda Garcia, School of Arts and Sciences
Priscilla Lopez, School of Arts and Sciences