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SGAs to unite and elect one president in fall 2020

May 4, 2020

Student Government Associations on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) campuses will morph from four individual governing bodies to a single unified entity in fall 2020.

The merger will begin with the election of a single president to represent all of UNG. All five campuses also will elect a vice president for that specific campus.

"Even though each campus has its own nuances and culture, we are one UNG," said Dr. James Conneely, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. "And a collective voice is a stronger one for the student body."

Mallory Rodriguez, director of student leadership, explained the new SGA structure will mimic the consolidation efforts between the two institutions that formed UNG.

"UNG's Faculty Senate and Staff Councils combined, and the departments and colleges combined, too," Rodriguez said. This year, the SGAs were asked to consider the option."

Walter "Walt" Chapeau took the message to heart. The senior pursuing a degree in business management with a concentration in supply chain turned the unification into his legacy project from the Leaving a Legacy of Leadership Summit that he attended in summer 2018.

"We had just finished our SGA budget process in Dahlonega when I noticed groups based on both campuses were allocated different amounts of money based on different campus funding guidelines," Chapeau said. "I thought 'How could we could work together on this?'"

In spring 2019, the native of Nicholson, Georgia, was elected as SGA president of the Dahlonega Campus for the 2019-20 academic year. He joined forces with his fellow SGA presidents to develop a plan to unify all four SGAs and allow for the Blue Ridge Campus to have an easy entrance into the structure when the time comes.

"We had a lot of lively debate on how to accomplish this unification," said Jelma Flores-Mota, SGA president on the Gainesville Campus. "But we worked hard to ensure all of the students were represented."

The result led to the formation of three tiers for SGA: the executive council, the legislative branch and campus governance.

The executive council features the president, five vice presidents, and Senate chair as well as four appointed directors. Directors manage marketing and communication, finance, elections, and diversity and inclusion.

"For the higher level positions like president and vice president, the candidate must have previous SGA experience," Rodriguez said.

The legislative branch will feature elected and commissioned senators. The 19 elected senators plus a Senate chair will represent UNG's colleges and campuses. One senator each will represent the College of Arts & Letters, College of Education, College of Health & Sciences, Institute of Environmental and Spatial Analysis, Mike Cottrell College of Business, College of Science & Mathematics and University College. The other 12 senators will represent the five campuses. Blue Ridge and Cumming will have one each, Oconee will have two, and Dahlonega and Gainesville each will have four.

Commissioned senators will be appointed to represent specific populations. They include commuters, the Corps of Cadets, dual-enrolled students, first-year experience, fraternity and sorority life, international students, LGBTQIA, multicultural, residential, student-athletes, students with disabilities, student organizations, transfer, and veteran and adult learners. Freshmen can also run for First-Year Senate.

Campus governance will feature three elected officers to manage communications, election and finance on each campus. These officers and campus senators will govern the daily operations such as new club approval, mini-grants and budgets.

"The goal is to unify the different SGAs to give a voice to each student and still honor each campus's culture and identity, because each is unique," Rodriguez said.

Elections will occur in the fall. If a student is interested, contact the UNG Student Government Association at

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