New Senators Elected For SGA’s 2020-2021 Senate


After multiple rounds of voting, the final results of the election for the Student Government Association’s (SGA) newest Senators were released on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Each candidate was responsible for collecting 25 student signatures virtually, providing an 150-word ballot statement and filling out a “Candidate Information” form. There were 10 available positions for every class year for a total of 40 open seats. 

The election was administered by the SGA’s Election Commissioners, seniors Shira Fischer and Jace DeMar. Fischer and DeMar were faced with unexpected obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted the election process accordingly.

In previous years, the process of running for Senate required students to collect 35 signatures by walking around campus, which is currently unfeasible because of new distancing guidelines. Fischer and DeMar discussed various ways to make the petitions virtual and ultimately decided to use JotForm, an online petition site. 

While Fischer and DeMar indicated that the site was effective overall, “Several students encountered difficulties with their online petitions …so we worked with those students on troubleshooting,” Fischer said.

Whereas senators in the past were required to live in Hamilton for at least one semester, students studying remotely this year were able to run. DeMar believed that while this change “pushed into some constitutional gray areas,” it was necessary. 

“With so many people studying remotely this semester, this [bylaw] just didn’t make sense, so [they] had to adapt the rules to fit the unprecedented circumstances that we currently find ourselves in,” DeMar said.  

Fischer and DeMar were also required to hold three extra elections, in addition to the usual four. They held a runoff election to resolve a tie between two candidates running in the class of 2024, and low-interest rates among the classes of 2021 and 2022 also required two additional elections. 

Despite the challenges with which they were confronted, Fischer and DeMar believe the election was fair and equitable.

“It was great to see so many students – especially freshmen – eager to get involved in SGA and try to advocate for their fellow students,” Fischer said.

The current senators ran on a variety of platforms, each one concerned about different aspects of student life. Third time Senator and junior Kaitlin Connelly is focused on advancing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan.

“There’s a big stigma about DEI in Greek Life, or a lack therefore, and I think being a part of it [as a member of Gamma Phi Beta], I have a good representative role,” Connelly said. “I think trying to work with Broad street and the Greek Life organizations to try to increase the DEI plans, increase DEI training [and] make it mandatory for everyone is something that is very important and something we should be focusing on.”

Senator and senior Will DeTeso, also elected for the third time, is concerned about sustainability and mental health on campus. 

“People are really struggling with their mental health, especially with the pandemic,” DeTeso said. “Everyone wants to be social, everyone wants to make friends and we’re being put in a position where it is against the rules to behave in ways that feel natural. I feel that’s something we should worry about and work on and hopefully provide opportunities for people to get get better mental health assistance.”

While the senators differ on the issues of concern they find most pressing, their sentiments are similar regarding their roles on campus. Connelly stated that as elected officials, they have a responsibility to represent their respective class years and give a voice to underrepresented groups. 

“[We must] try to make sure we’re understanding everyone’s voice and opinion, [especially] for the groups on campus who feel like they have a lesser platform, just trying to make sure that we’re always holding each other accountable to make sure every one is represented,” Connelly said. 

Similarly, Senator and first-year William Apostolica attested to the importance of senators reflecting the voices of their constituents. He explained that as representatives, they have a responsibility to both their fellow classmates and the Hamilton community as a whole.

“I think senators serve as role models on campus as we are representing our student body on the board. This includes following rules and regulations and also being a good member of the community,” Apostolica said.

Several of the senators voiced concerns about the transition to Senate meetings over Zoom. According to DeTeso, staying engaged and productive is difficult on this platform. Last year, students who were unaffiliated with SGA had the opportunity to express their grievances during speaking time, which will no longer be possible over Zoom.

In addition to the pandemic-related challenges, the senators believe the tense political climate and upcoming election is and will continue to affect the student body, and must be addressed by the Colgate Senate. Connelly addresses the sensitive nature of the upcoming election, and highlights SGA’s role in creating an atmosphere where all students feel safe and respected. 

“[Colgate’s campus] is a really private space, personal space, for a lot of students where they feel comfortable with their existence. We want to make sure no one ever feels like their existence is being questioned, doubted or discriminated against,” Connelly said.

Despite the myriad of obstacles facing the SGA this year, Apostolica is optimistic about its ability to adapt to the conditions and impart positive change on the Colgate campus.

“I think our team will do a phenomenal job working through Zoom and regulating change in the community,” Apostolica said. “This is such an exciting experience for me right off the bat, and I cannot wait to be part of this wonderful group.”