A new slate of Student Government Association executive officers has been selected, and the group met over the weekend for a retreat to set goals and prepare for the year ahead.
Newly elected SGA President Dane Block said he, along with Vice President Schyler Burney and Treasurer Dixon Simmons, spent the last few weeks interviewing potential candidates and narrowing down the pack.
"We looked at experience and leadership roles in the sense of fresh ideas and what people could bring to the table, some new faces, too," Block said. "We wanted individuals with a vision and heart for all of Auburn through personal experience, through seeing them active on campus."
Block said they looked at platforms of those who were candidates in this year's elections, previous SGA experience and campus involvement. One of those individuals is Executive Vice President of Programs Patrick Starr, who ran against Block for SGA president.
"Forty-eight percent of the student body believed in Patrick," Block said. "To have his ideas and his mindset on this is great."
Others, like Austin Chandler, held previous positions in SGA. Chandler was last year's assistant vice president of auxiliary services and has been selected as this year's executive vice president of initiatives.
"There are so many things that we are working on that he is knowledgeable on," Block said. "He'll bring a lot to the table."
- President: Dane Block
- Vice President: Schyler Burney
- Treasurer: Dixon Simmons
- Chief of staff: Mackenzie Yelton
- Executive secretary: Ally Arthur
- EVP Initiatives: Austin Chandler
- EVP Programs: Patrick Starr
- EVP Outreach: Jordan Kramer
- EVP Communications and Marketing: Bailey Hand
Block, Burney and Simmons interviewed 11 candidates for the six executive positions, grading them with a "SWOT analysis" based on their strengths, weaknesses, external opportunities and threats.
"We figured out what each individual would bring to the table and how they would gel well, all working together," Block said. "If we have problems working, that's not good for the students, that's not good for the SGA and it's not good for all of Auburn."
Four of the newly selected executive officers — Starr, Mackenzie Yelton, Austin Chandler and Bailey Hand — come from assistant vice president roles in SGA while the rest held Student Senate seats last year. Block, Ally Arthur and Simmons were business senators, while Schyler Burney and Jordan Kramer were liberal arts senators.
"I wanted to do something that's tangible not just run on something that would get votes," Block said. "We're still meeting as a group together and figuring out what Auburn's doing already and what we can do."
This year's executive board is lacking any black representation. Block said the disparity was not intentional, but the executive officers are diverse in other ways. Three of the six appointees are women, and one officer, Kramer, executive vice president of outreach, is gay.
"There's more to diversity than what meets the eye," Block said. "I realize that from what meets the eye we don't meet that visual representation of what people are looking for. But I don't want people to think that we don't have that diverse mindset, diverse opinions at the table."
Block's two most recent predecessors, Jacqueline Keck and Jesse Westerhouse, both made moves to fill their initial cabinets with at least one black member.
"This is something that we constantly talk about," Block said. "We are aware. It would be another story if this wasn't picking at our hearts and our brains."
Block said he wasn't aware of any openly gay executive officers in recent years.
"He (Kramer) is going to do an incredible job, just like everybody else on our executive team," Block said.
The new executive officers, selected last week and announced this weekend, will take office later this month on Feb. 25 when SGA transitions officially take place. Students chose Block in a runoff on Feb. 8. Since then, the top three officials have been working to select their top officers.
"It was tough because you are so limited on time," Block said. "We could take four weeks out of the year to go to the bottoms of every single corner on Auburn's campus, but with the crew that we interviewed and with this exec team, I'm very excited."
The candidates will need to be confirmed by the Student Senate.
The top three elected SGA officials work together to select the executive officers. From there, the executive officers move on to select assistant vice presidents. Together, the executive officers and assistant vice presidents work to select the remainder of cabinet, a group of more than 70 people that implement SGA initiatives, programs and outreach campaigns.
Block said he and his team will continue to seek out diverse perspectives and backgrounds for cabinet positions.
"We're not done yet," Block said. "We have AVP applications coming out, and we do have the rest of cabinet to fill."
Cabinet Application Dates
- AVP and cabinet applications available online: Feb. 26, 2018
- AVP applications due: March 5, 2018
- Cabinet applications due: March 19, 2018
Correction: A previous version of the application calendar appended to this piece said cabinet applications are due March 23. They are due March 19.