SGA discusses new logo, revised voting system

By RUDY MALCOM and DEREK MORITZ | March 28, 2019

Student Government Association (SGA) members discussed the new student center task force at their weekly meeting on Tuesday. They also passed an amendment to the Committee on Student Elections (CSE) constitution that will change the vote counting system for future SGA elections.

According to Executive President AJ Tsang, members of the student task force spoke about their plans at a meeting last Friday. Tsang said the task force will focus on SGA’s goal of being a platform for student feedback. According to Tsang, students who are not members of SGA have already been asked to serve on the task force. The task force will work with Director of Athletics & Recreation Alanna Shanahan, who is leading the planning process for the construction of the student center. 

Tsang added that SGA’s Student Services committee will soon hold a meeting to discuss the student center. They also plan to release a student survey to receive student input, he said.

Tsang also mentioned Junior Class Senator Claire Gorman’s proposal for receiving student feedback.

“Claire had an awesome idea during the call about having a public outreach event on the quad with donuts or other goodies and feedback can be received on the student center,” Tsang said.

Following the discussion of the new student center task force, Sophomore Class Senator Evan Mays described his process for designing a new logo for the SGA. Mays said he conducted a survey that found that 88.2 percent of SGA members dislike the current logo, which includes a drawing of University founder Johns Hopkins. 

Mays explained that his survey asked SGA members which core values of SGA they believe would be important to display in the new logo. According to Mays, many SGA members’ responses emphasized their beliefs that SGA is effective, efficient, transparent and productive.

Mays also asked members how they would describe SGA in a tweet. He read some of the responses aloud, including one that addressed SGA’s role.

“‘SGA serves as a platform for the expression of student voice and the enfranchisement of students in the decision-making processes of the University,’” he said.

Mays concluded by reviewing the next steps that would be taken should the SGA vote to approve a redesign effort, which included research, brainstorming, presenting and reporting. Following his presentation, the SGA voted unanimously to approve the commissioning of a new logo.

SGA members also passed an amendment to the CSE’s communications after a presentation from CSE Chair Noah Smith. In an email to The News-Letter, Tsang explained that the CSE will now return to using the plurality voting system, under which candidates need a minimum of 50 votes to win. Under the plurality system, voters have the opportunity to cast one vote for each of the six Class Council seats. The six candidates with the highest vote totals will win, assuming that total is higher than 50. 

Through the previous rank-based voting system, however, each student could have one vote. They would rank, in order of preference, who the vote would go to. If their first-choice candidate did not win, their vote would be distributed down the line to the next candidate who did. With the old system, one student's vote could only go to one Class Council candidate.

“The CSE ended its use of the ranked choice voting, which was a brief experiment during the 2018 election cycle, and returned to utilizing the plurality system in all elections,” he wrote.

Following last May’s SGA Class Council Elections, 10 seats remained vacant because several candidates were unable to secure the 50-vote threshold, despite running unopposed. SGA members approved freshman Katy Li’s confirmation to SGA’s Policy Research and Development Commission (PRDC). 

Next week, SGA will bring workshops from the Counseling Center and treats to the Beach. Junior Class Senator Claire Gorman, who passed and introduced the Wellness Week funding bill earlier this month, said that events will include yoga on the beach, free coffee, meditation sessions and will culminate with Pajama Day next Friday.

Corrections: The original version of this article stated that CSE Chair Rahul Naik gave a presentation at the meeting. CSE member Noah Smith gave the presentation.

The original version of this article incorrectly described the differences between the plurality voting-system and the current rank-based voting system. They have been corrected.

The News-Letter regrets these errors.

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