The University of Tennessee at Martin's Student Government Association held their annual elections last Tuesday and Wednesday. UT Martin students decided to elect Hunter McCloud as President, Sidney Church as Vice President, Jacob Butler as Secretary General and Veronica Kanka as Press Secretary.
Hunter McCloud will step in as president after senior Devin Majors graduates in May. Majors announced that he will attend University of Tennessee law school in August.
McCloud's party, the Martin Student Alliance, ran against the Unity Party, sporting a ticket of Logan Hendrickson, Sarolyn Fox and Cheyenne Deweese as President, Vice President and Secretary General candidates respectively.
McCloud won the title of President with 53% of the votes. Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs John Abel says that almost 700 students voted.
This SGA election was conducted entirely online. While students always have the option to vote online, candidates can usually conduct business in the University Center hallway, attend events and hand out food on election day. McCloud said that it was a struggle to communicate effectively and mobilize voters in an online election.
SGA's homepage on UTM's website was key for students deciding between the parties. MSA's platforms were available there, as well as on social media. WUTM News spoke with McCloud about MSA's six platforms.
First, MSA wants to tackle parking. McCloud hopes to assemble a task force to search for and implement parking reforms when students return to campus. The task force will consist of engineering and art students to assure that the parking options are not only effective but also pleasant to look at.
While commuters worry about proximity to academic buildings, he says the task force will be focused on non-commuter parking.
"We're much better off than half of the other universities in Tennessee or in America," McCloud said.
Not only will SGA look at parking options, they will also look at parking appeal system. He's hoping to make that part of the student court system and not a series of emails, making for an "in-person, human touch."
Next, McCloud hopes to help SGA improve city and university relations. He was inspired by other UT System SGAs that have a campus and city liaison position on campus.
"While it may seem more relevant in a place like Knoxville where it's a huge city and it's always changing, I think Martin is a very tight-knit community."
The city of Martin does have a committee to communicate between the city and the university, but McCloud hopes to add a student member or create a position in SGA.
Next, McCloud and MSA hope to promote diversity and inclusion on campus. He says that, since diversity week is such a fixture on campus, he wants to see more programming every month. Last semester, SGA debated a bill which says students could substitute a philosophy or other humanities credit for a diversity class.
McCloud wants to build school spirit. This, he says, will be very important when students return to on-campus classes. He says morale is low, so "making sure we build that back up" will be important. McCloud would like to host a coming-back party when students return. UTM Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver has expressed similar desires.
"We do a lot of events to promote SGA in general, but I think I'd like to promote the school and spirit in general as well."
McCloud, a member of the ENGAGE committee, is interested in doing an Earth Day or Earth Week to promote a greener campus. The committee has discussed bringing those events back, McCloud said, and he wants to get SGA involved in that since ecology affects students.
Finally, he wants SGA to be accountable. "Everything that SGA does, we have to make sure we do it for the students," McCloud said. He also wants to make sure students are aware when changes that affect them are made.
He wants to make sure students see what changes are being made and therefore feel welcome in SGA.
For more information about MSA's platforms, visit UTM's website.
McCloud says that SGA will first look at reconsidering bills from this semester, which died because of the coronavirus crisis. He also wants to make sure SGA can participate in the back-to-school celebration when students return to campus. The parking task force will also be assembled.