Chairwoman: SGA image tied to retention in House

With a retention rate of 53.57 percent from last semester’s House of Representatives to this semester, Student Government Association members said they hope to improve the body’s reputation and in turn, retention by changing the focus from internal issues to student concerns.”Students don’t want to see SGA doing things for SGA – they want to see them doing things for students,” said Tori Hutchens, chairwoman of elections and regulations.

Although she said there is only so much SGA can do to get people to participate; it’s all cyclical.

Hutchens said three of 26 open seats will remain vacant after Tuesday’s election because no candidates ran to fill the positions and five of the 23 candidates elected ran unopposed.

Hutchens said she hopes that if meetings can run more efficiently this semester and if SGA can pass bills that impact students, representatives will be more apt to stay involved.

Ryan Johnson, communications chairman, said some students join SGA in an attempt to build their resum‚s and then leave when “they realize it’s not a walk in the park.”

Last semester, students were not impressed with how meetings were run, Johnson said, but the speaker of the House should smooth those problems out and bring focus to the meetings.

John Campbell, a senior political science major, said he resigned from his position as speaker because he is focusing on a business venture and taking 12 hours of coursework. He said he does not have the time to commit to the position, however, he said he will remain involved in SGA through student committees, which do not require as much time.

Hutchens said there are positions open for a variety of reasons, including students studying abroad, members getting elected to higher positions and leaving their representative spots open, and students leaving because of scheduling issues.

Student governments at the University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University do not have elections to fill empty seats, instead committees select a replacement from a pool of applicants.

UT-Austin, like TCU, elects representatives by college, though its student government has 39 representatives for an undergraduate student body of 39,000, while TCU’s SGA has 56 representatives for an undergraduate student body of 7,171.

Hutchens said before the new constitution, which calls for students to represent their colleges rather than their residence halls, SGA had more than 100 representatives.

She said that having 56 representatives is working out and SGA does not want to focus on decreasing numbers because its goal this semester is to get outside of the organization and do things for the campus.

SGA will continue to try and implement changes for students, Hutchens said, though students often do not credit SGA for small changes, such as the new benches near Pond St. Grill.

Johnson said he hopes that by focusing on the student body, SGA can change the negative perception many students have, one that often makes them hesitant to get involved.