UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

All students have a vote in SGA elections March 20


Applications for the Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Council are in and elections will take place March 20 through a ballot sent to students’ UHCL email.  Students will have one week to complete the ballot, and all students are eligible to cast their vote. 

SGA is UHCL’s student government body, and these officers serve as representatives of the student body on campus. SGA gives voice to UHCL students like Miles Shellshear, communication major, who would like to see more student- involvement activities, and Flor Gonzalez, biology major, who wants more recycling bins on campus along with campus beautification. By electing representatives who have similar goals, these students are able to spark change at a local level on campus. 

A few of the accomplishments SGA has achieved in recent years include creating an endowed scholarship, hosting a yearly canned food drive and lobbying for the sidewalk along the north side of the SSCB.

Andrew Reitberger, director of Student Life and SGA advisor, has been charged with conducting SGA elections. Despite the efforts of Reitberger and many other school officials to create a school environment in which people participate in campus elections, participation is low.

“It is still a very small percentage of our population [that vote],” Reitberger said. “Just like local elections.” 

UHCL has a student body of approximately 8,000 students. Last year there were 150 ballots cast during the SGA election. That is a large increase from previous years when the SGA representatives were elected by about 50 people from student organization representatives. 

Prior to last year’s election, students were required to be involved in a student organization, be their SGA representative, and attend the SGA meeting when the election was conducted in order to vote. This prerequisite for voting disqualified a large number of students from voting in the SGA election. 

Last year, SGA expanded voting rights to include the entire student body. Reitberger is hoping that by allowing all UHCL students to vote, there will be an increased interest in SGA elections. Reitberger is hopeful about the level of participation in these elections because some students have already asked if they can campaign; a UHCL first. 

“Campaigning really brings to light that UHCL does have an active SGA and that they’re here on campus to serve students, in all avenues,” said Vice President-Administration of SGA Izuh Ikpeama.

Once elected, SGA representatives commit to weekly meetings which can take between five and six hours per week, two hours a week of office hours and many other commitments throughout the semester. 

“It’s a significant time commitment,” Reitberger said.  “That’s what they are asked to do, commit to time, commit to voicing all students concerns and not just their concerns.”

Being a student and in SGA, Ikpeama has to utilize time management skills in order to fulfill all of his commitments. 

“[I have] had to shift around other organizations and activities to be able to attend a scheduling or committee meeting,” Ikpeama said. “But it’s nothing if not rewarding, knowing that the work that I’m doing is directly going to bring about change for students on campus.” 

In addition to the four executive council spots up for re-election – President, Vice President – Committee Coordinator, Vice President – Student Outreach and Communication, Vice President – Administration – there are also 25 new positions students can run for.

These 25 positions will make up the SGA Senate that will meet monthly and will be composed of three undergraduates and two graduate students from each college, and five students who represent student organizations. 

GRAPHIC: Green and blue text reading "SGA Senate" on a faint parchment background. Next to it is a gray illustrated arm raising a yellow voting card. Graphic created by The Signal reporter Evan Zieschang.
SGA Senate info session. Graphic created by The Signal reporter Evan Zieschang.

Some of the duties of these senators will be to meet with college faculty, survey students about needs on campus and act as a liaison between students and the respective colleges. There is a minimum time commitment of 10 to 15 hours of service each month. The goal of this Senate is to increase the impact and reach of the SGA. 

Once elected, the student body representatives will serve for one year starting in April. The Senate members will begin their one year of service starting the fall 2018 semester. There is an upcoming SGA meeting on March 20 where all candidates will be able to present their case for office. To learn more about SGA elections, visit the SGA website.

“If students have any grievances or concerns about anything that is happening on campus, they can work towards addressing these potential issues by getting involved in SGA and letting their voice be heard,” Ikpeama said.