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Student Union suffers quicksilver senators and exec. board members

September 29th, 2011

Conflicting schedules, off-campus opportunities and inconsistent beliefs of the Student Union’s purpose, among other reasons, has caused the official student government organization to lose five senators and two executive board members this semester.

As the semester began, Student Union was without a vice president for communications after junior Trenton Oczypok transferred from John Carroll. Junior Will Butler, the VP for judicial affairs, left after obtaining multiple job opportunities, according to SU President Rita Rochford.

In addition to the executive board losses, two senators had class conflicts, Rochford noted.

“We all enjoy having a small school but [at the same time], there are not multiple sections of classes offered,” she said. “So if there’s something important to their major and this is the only time to take it, they have to take it when the class comes.”

For some senators, such as juniors Rebecca Magyar and Megan Carrig, and senior Meghan Everett, scheduling conflicts lead to their resignation. Magyar had to step down after scheduling a class needed for her minor.

As a result, she had to give up her position as chairwoman of Student Union’s Committee on Residence Life.

“Getting involved on campus is important to me, but academics come first,” she said.

For Everett, it was an opportunity off campus that led her to the decision to leave as senator.

“I stepped down because I was given a great opportunity to work for the Sherwin Williams Foundation, which is a very prestigious yet demanding opportunity,” she said.  “I feel as a senior I need to prepare myself for the future and this opportunity took precedent. It was a hard decision, however I feel I made the right choice.”

According to Rochford, Everett, who has been very dedicated to the organization in the past, is still open to being very involved with Student Union, such as working on the senior project.

Senior Michael Fox, a now-former senator, also stepped down this semester after finding the purpose of Student Union’s agenda different from his view of what it should be. Fox noted that, in his opinion, the organization is one that is seeking to validate its authority and existence by constant attempts for drastic overhauls of internal procedure that lack perspective.

“Student Union truly is a puppet organization that is seen more as a formality to faculty and administrators than as a decision making body,” he said. “I simply don’t have time to try and fit that into my notions of what leadership truly is.”

Fox said that the decision to step down as a senator was a difficult one, because he has been involved with Student Union since his freshman year and has served in many different capacities.

Rochford stressed that while she wishes all of the students could have stayed in their positions, she’d rather see these losses as a positive, in that now there are opportunities to engage more students and get them into leadership roles.

“It’s a relative question,” she said. “One person could see this as a huge loss from a number standpoint, but another person who may have come to the meetings may have realized that some of the people who left weren’t the most vocal or active, so this is an opportunity to replace them with someone who might be more enthusiastic about the position.”

Thus far, several of the positions that were empty at the start of the semester have already been filled. Oczypok’s position has been filled by senior Dana Hartung, who will now serve as the VP for communications. The two senator seats left open to the junior class by Magyar and Carrig’s departures were filled by Bill Cook and Ryan Zubal. Currently, senior Constance DiBacco is serving as the vice chair for the VP for judicial affairs, appointed by Butler before he stepped down. Everett, Fox and junior Megan France’s positions on SU have yet to be filled.

Rochford said that applications for the remaining positions will be distributed this week and will be due on Oct. 3 so that the spots can be filled relatively soon.

To avoid instances like this in the future, Rochford indicated the need for students to understand the commitment they are making when they decide to run for senate or an executive board position.

“I am going to do everything in my power to stress how long-term this commitment is so that when people are deciding to run for senate or for the exec-board, they understand they have to put this first when they’re scheduling things around it,” she said.