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Thursday, Oct 6, 2022

Seniors, sophomores, and Febs elect new SGA senators

Turnout in February elections is typically lower than in regular spring elections, when more candidates are running and more postitions are open.
Turnout in February elections is typically lower than in regular spring elections, when more candidates are running and more postitions are open.

SGA held elections for new Feb senators and three special elections — for one sophomore and two senior Senators — from Feb. 24-25. The new Feb senators are Ting Cui ’25.5 and Faith Wood ’24.5, while Michael Eller ’24 stepped into the sophomore senator position, and Joel Machado ’22 and Nia Williams ’22 filled the senior roles.

SGA held special elections this spring because the former senators resigned, while the Feb elections always occur during the first few weeks of the spring semester.

Ella Du ’24, co-director for SGA operations, said that — while low compared to the total size of the constituencies — voter turnout did not significantly differ from her expectations. According to Du, February elections typically have lower turnouts than later in the spring, when there are more elections and more candidates.

Machado noted that he wasn’t surprised at the low turnout for his election, given that he and Williams ran unopposed for their positions. 

“[W]hat matters is getting people hyped up about the real power that SGA has to inspire change,” Machado said. “Maybe we will see a bigger turnout for next year's elections, especially if we can get some demands added onto the ballot.”

Wood said that many students seem to believe that SGA does not have much of an impact on student experiences. However, she feels differently.

“Every time I’m at an SGA meeting I feel like I’m with a group of Avengers. They’re all like saving the world,” she said.

Wood hopes that the student body can get more involved in the work SGA does.

“I think that that's something I'm going to be working on this semester,” Wood said. “I want to be more communicative and more transparent with the student body about what we do.”

Wood and Cui both expressed a desire for Middlebury to provide more mental health resources for its students. Cui, in a written statement to The Campus, identified therapy dogs as a potential avenue, while Wood voiced concerns about the college’s lack of mental health counselors specialized in issues such as the trans experience and trauma.

Machado explained that he ran for Senior Senator — after spending time on the Community Council, Sophomore Committee and SGA cabinet — partially in order to fight for staff wage increases. At his first meeting as a senator on March 1, Machado introduced a resolution to ask the administration to increase student employee base wages to $15 per hour and non-student employee base wages to $20 per hour. The resolution was co-authored by Machado, Williams and SGA President Roni Lezama.

Du noted that the election process was not as regimented and formal as the bylaws lay out.

“There's a lot of rules regarding special elections and vacancies and when appointments to positions can occur, [and] there's a reason for that, but it also doesn't need to be as strict as it is, which is what the Senate and the Elections Committee has agreed on,” Du said.

Du also noted that the relaxation of some of the bylaws is intentional. “[Being a senator is] a serious role, but it's also like, the passion and for fun,” Du said. “We want whoever wants or is interested in a position to be able to feel comfortable running and applying. So we don't want to make it anxiety-inducing.”

For the recent elections, candidates had to collect 25 signatures from their constituency supporting their candidacy, before writing a candidate statement and campaigning for four days. The election was held via Presence.

“I've only known this school for a couple weeks, but I've already fallen in love. Thus, I want to advocate for my fellow febs and address any issues that arise,” Cui said.

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