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Special election part of changing tides in SA senate

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Following a string of resignations and impeachments last semester, the Student Association senate is seeking to add new life to its ranks while preparing to lose many of its senior members later this year.

Tasked with managing a $2.2 million budget comprised entirely out of student activity fees, SA currently has seven vacancies – equal to one seventh of the body’s total voting power. The vacated seats will be filled this February in a special election, currently in the nomination phase, that will mark the start of a transition period for SA.

Senators Jarrett Altilio, senate chair; Mitchell Ryback, chairman of the Board of Finance; Olivia Johansen, chairwoman of Community Engagement and Outreach; Adam Shayo, chairman of the Subcommittee on Ethics; and Anna Agnes, chairwoman of Government Operations, will be graduating this coming May. Graduating in December is senator Sean Correia, chairman of Constituent Relations. 

Changeover in SA leadership is nothing new, according to Altilio, who has been involved with SA since his freshman year and has been senate chair for the past two years.

“Every single committee chair no longer is in SA because either they didn’t run, didn’t win or graduated,” said Altilio. “SA goes on.”

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When asked how the changeover in senate leadership will impact the continuity of the organization, Altilio said he expects no major disruptions, citing institutional balances within SA that will remain intact even as the body’s leadership changes.

“It’s about the people, yes,” he said, “but SA is bigger than that.”

Altilio is viewing February’s special election as more than an opportunity to fill vacated senate seats, but a way to attract new, committed leaders to the organization moving forward – something SA struggled to find last semester.

In December, SA’s Rules Committee voted to remove senators Carlos McArthur of Alumni Quad and Katherine Dobler of Colonial Quad following five and six unexcused absences, respectively. Under current SA bylaws, senators are only permitted three unexcused absences.

“They obviously don’t want the job, or they have too many other things going on where they can’t give their undivided attention to it [Student Association],” said Rules Committee Chairman Brandon Holdridge at the time.

Adding to the vacancies, Dejourae Williams and Patrick Carroll resigned their senate seats last semester after transferring schools and assuming the role of SA deputy comptroller, respectively. Logan Losito gave up his seat to pursue an internship in Washington D.C., while Amanda Goldfine graduated last winter.   

More recently, Sen. Moises Urena resigned his senate seat at the start of the current semester to take up a role on the executive board.

There are currently three at-large senate seats up for grabs in the upcoming special election as well as one each from Indian, Colonial, Alumni and off-campus.

“With seven seats on the ballot, I’m positive that we can get some new faces in there who will probably have some staying power and if they like it, want to run again in March,” said Altilio.

When pressed about who he sees filling his leadership role in the future, Altilio declined to answer.

“The people who might be left will need to take on larger roles or will have to step up to the plate now that the plate is open,” he said. “It seems to me that it’s always been the case that someone has.”

Correction, Feb. 6: Sen. Anna Agnes is graduating in May 2018, not Dec. 2018. 


Chad Arnold is a reporter for the Albany Student Press covering Student Association affairs. He is also an die-hard heavy metal fan.

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