The Saint Vincent Student Government Association (SGA) recently held its annual executive board elections. Students ran for the positions of president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. Junior marketing major Joel Santoro was elected president, Juliana Ruggiero as vice president, Dee Rowe as secretary and Phil Montalbano as treasurer in a runoff. They were sworn in on Dec. 2.
Santoro moved up to president after a term as vice president.
“I decided to run for President because I wanted to continue to lead SGA down a path where we are able to continue to make great changes for this campus,” he said.
The executive board has substantial responsibilities at Saint Vincent, largely because the SGA controls a substantial budget, including most club funding. It often amounts to over $100,000. Santoro intends to do his best to make sure the money is carefully spent.
“During my term as president I hope to guide SGA down the path that we are currently on in spending the budget wisely and bringing positive and impactful changes to this campus and the Saint Vincent Community,” he said.
Because of their importance, executive board positions aren’t open to any student. Only those with at least two semesters of service in SGA can run for treasurer and secretary, according to the SGA constitution. Three semesters are required for the president and vice president. All members must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Board members’ responsibilities are significant enough that an SGA meeting earlier this semester discussed the possibility of providing compensation to board members. The discussion suggested a stipend of $500 per semester. The minutes of that meeting indicate that Dr. Jerome Foss stated that he thought many colleges provide stipends of this sort.
John McGee, a communications major and sophomore class senator in SGA, thinks a stipend would be unnecessary.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. We’ve gone for this many years without it. The problem with price is an issue. We would pay them either too little or too much,” McGee said.
A small amount, he believes, would not serve much use, while an amount large enough to make a difference wouldn’t be justified in light of the SGA’s overall budget.
Sophomore senator and economics and accounting major Saagar Patel, who lost the treasurer runoff to Montalbano, thinks some compensation might be justified.
“I, personally, think we should pay the executive board, not handing them a check at the end of the semester, but perhaps cutting the tuition for them. . . or the cost of living. . . .” Patel said.
But Santoro explained that the decision doesn’t ultimately rest with SGA.
“The decision of providing a stipend or any forms of compensation is not decided by the Executive Board, or the Student Government Senate. That is a decision that the college’s administration would be making,” he said.
Despite losing, Patel was generally pleased with the elections process. Results represented a fair balance of competence and popularity, he thought. In the sophomore class elections last semester, he suggested that several candidates who were well-known did not fare as well as others whom he considered more skilled at their jobs.
Turnout for the executive board election amounted to approximately 230 students, according to the results released by the SGA. That’s only about 15% of the student body. But Patel thinks such a low rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means that students who vote really care, he argued.
“That also helps cap the popularity aspect of it,” he said.