SGA races get started early

Several candidates for next year’s Student Government Association executive board have started campaigning early in what promises to be the most contested election in recent years.

The election, in which the spots for treasurer, vice president, president, and every class presidency are expected to be contested, is scheduled for April 19-21. The speech night on April 18 will include the traditional speeches by all candidates and, in a new twist, a debate for the presidential candidates, current SGA president Adam Brittin said.

Juniors Stephanie Okeson and Jared Bass have both declared their desire to be president well before the April 13 deadline, while juniors Josh Meyer (running in tandem with Okeson) and Shawn Murphy (working with Bass) will run for the vice presidency. In another early contest, sophomore Rob Caruso and first-year George Reigle are campaigning to be treasurer.

Okeson and Meyer play up their diverse experience in student leadership at Eastern. Both are active members of the SGA this year, while Okeson is an RA and former student chaplain and Meyer is a leader with the Invisible Children group.

“We feel like we know a lot of the needs of Eastern,” Okeson said.

The two would make the SGA “more transparent,” working to serve God, serve Eastern and serve individual students.

Bass and Murphy outline a generally similar vision for what SGA leadership should be, starting with service.

“We’re about being personal more than about blanketing the campus with flyers,” Bass said.

Both Bass and Murphy have extensive and active SGA experience as sometime class presidents and senators. Murphy has been involved for all three of his years at Eastern, while Bass was involved for his first two years before studying away last semester.

Okeson and Meyer’s specific plans include extending visitation hours, advocating “more adequate” practice facilities for the music department, creating more meal plan options, bringing in better-known musicians for concerts and listening to commuters’ voices better.

“We have fronts and backs of pages of things people want changed,” Meyer said.

Bass and Murphy emphasized that they want to avoid overpromising.

“We don’t want to throw ideas out there that have no chance of getting done,” Murphy said.

Bass and Murphy would also like to extend visitation hours, as well as extend library hours during finals and midterms, bring wireless Internet access to places like the Breezeway and more of McInnis, bring more computers to the library and establish a 24-hour computer lab.

“Our platform is about providing practical solutions to everyday problems,” Bass said.

According to both candidates for treasurer, Reigle and Caruso, the treasurer’s job is important because that person serves primarily as the liaison between the clubs and the SGA (which disburses their money). The SGA’s budget is over $20,000 every year, Caruso said.

“It’s almost difficult to believe that this position has never been contested before,” he said.

Reigle is basing his campaign – which will include painting the Rock and distributing lots of flyers – on his experience with budget-related matters. He is a first-year senator now and was treasurer and president in high school, and had a similar disbursement role in the Lebanon County Club Association.

“I think we need to be faster with how we get the clubs their money,” Reigle said. The key is how organized the treasurer is, he said.

“I definitely stand for equality,” Reigle said. “All the clubs deserve money no matter what they do.”

Caruso is an unofficial student chaplain, one of the people who stepped up in their halls when too few official chaplains were appointed this year. He has been part of the student government for two years, as a senator and now as SGA-appointed sophomore president.

“My biggest goal was just to be available, someone who will always talk with people about the SGA,” Caruso said. “If you ask people in the SGA, I live in the office.”

The knowledge he has gained about the SGA and how it works will help him enable the clubs to work with the Senate more effectively, he said. His campaign will involve flyers, Facebook ads and a Web site,, but he doesn’t put much stock in them.

“I just hope that people won’t be persuaded by media campaigns, by who has more flyers or paints the Rock first,” Caruso said.

Whoever wins the elections, current president Brittin thinks the SGA will be especially active next year.

“I think we’re getting a lot of new people who aren’t just doing it to get it on their resume,” he said.

Comments are closed.