Student Government Association officials confirmed this week that elections were on track for the begining of April, with candidate nomination forms available as early as March 8 and due back to the SGA office no later than March 24.
So how does someone get involved with SGA?
Many senators began their tenure as Freshman Council members. Through this experience, they learn about the basics of the organization, propose legislation pertaining to the next entering class, and network with campus officials. However, it is not a prerequisite to becoming a senator.
All students seeking office must complete a petition with 25 signatures of registered UTM students, along with a certification of the candidate’s current grade point average.
After a petition is accepted by the Elections Commission-er, the candidate registers for a time to take a constitution test.
The test, usually fewer than 25 questions, certifies a candidate’s knowledge of the general structure and duties of the SGA.
Offices on the executive council, comprising the president, vice president and secretary general, have slightly different requirements.
Only SGA veterans are eligible for these spots, having served at least two full semesters as a senator or at an executive council-appointed position, such as assistant or elections commissioner.
After the deadline has passed for petitions to be submitted, a list of potential candidates is submitted to news media outlets such as The Pacer and WUTM radio. Although not officially labeled as candidates until receiving a passing grade on the constitution test, most begin planning for the upcoming campaign on the assumption.
Campaign guidelines, in comparison to other schools in the state, are very stringent. While the University of Tennessee at Knoxville enjoys unlimited campaign fundraising and lengthy campaign periods, UTM’s contest is decided in less than a week.
According to financial records, last year’s spending cap was set at $250 of a candidates own personal finances. Donations, however, would not be counted against this cap but still must appear on an itemized budget.
Candidates are not allowed to post fliers or other paraphernalia on painted surfaces in academic buildings, nor are they allowed to put signs in the ground for fear of severing communications cables, as occurred in the spring of 2001.