SGA running mates focus on student involvement

James Schooley, SGA president, and Matthew Ruiz, former SGA CHESS senator for Hammond, will be running in the 2019-2020 SGA elections unopposed.

This is the second year in a row with no second candidate on the ballot. Last year, Riley Owens, former SGA president, and Dustin Thibideau, former SGA vice president, were the only candidates running at the time of voting due to the disqualification of their opposition. Schooley said this is an effect due to the students’ lack of awareness of the organization and hopes that he can change this in the upcoming year.

Schooley plans to discuss an option with the Elections Committee that allows students to forgo the requirement of voting for candidates for every SGA position to turn in a ballot. During last year’s election, this was not an option and students had to vote for Owens and Thibideau in order to vote for their college senator on either campus. He also hopes this option will allow for a larger voter turnout, as only about 5% of the students voted last year.

As Schooley is from the Westville campus and Ruiz is from the Hammond campus, the pair hope to best represent the entirety of PNW’s students should they be elected.

“I don’t have as strong of awareness of Hammond concerns because of my Westville background; however, I have been thankful to have a diligent staff to fulfill my shortcomings,” Schooley said. “I hope that this will continue if should I be elected, and be aided by my running mate, and that my current work with university officials will allow students to trust me in the future.”

As president, Schooley said he would hope to continue furthering his good working relationship with the administration, faculty and staff to best communicate the concerns of the students.

“Our goal is to best blaze the trail for progress for the students on campus — irrespective of whether they go to the Hammond or Westville campus,” Ruiz said. “I hope that we’ll be able to increase the student participation across both campuses and the outreach of SGA when interacting with student organizations.”

Ruiz said he also hopes to advocate for extended library hours once again, carrying over a goal from his term as senator in the fall.

“The position of vice president allows for the opportunity to better address issues on campus with the hope to improve student life,” Ruiz said.

Schooley hopes to focus on obtaining a vote in the Student Service Fee allocations to best aid student organizations. Both running mates said they will focus on increasing student involvement across both campuses and increasing membership of SGA.