The role of the student body vice president is still unclear

Posted on April 22, 2013 in News
By Jeremy Holden

Student Body President-elect Kelsea Dunham, a junior double-majoring in business and women and gender studies, is searching to fill the newly created student vice president seat, but the duties of the new position remain unclear to Student Government Association members.

“I’m not sure what the vice president duties will be right now,” said Dunham, “because the position hasn’t been fully thought out. Until I am sworn into office, I will not know what work to assign the vice president.”

“However, the position is needed,” added Dunham. “Within the past few years, the previous student body presidents have all complained that the office has way too much work for just one person, and they were not able to fulfill all of their duties. The new position of vice president will help make sure the work for the office doesn’t fall by the wayside.”

Dunham is not sure who she will pick to fill this new position. Her initial choice was her former rival for the student body presidency, Isaac Misiuk, a sophomore political science major. Dunham said that Misiuk declined to take the vice presidency because the office duties are too vague and uncertain.

“Right now, I’m trying to find someone with a strong presence on the Gorham campus,” said Dunham. “It’s a place I don’t have a lot of familiarity with. I’m a commuter, and I spend all of my time on the Portland campus. I want to have someone that has a different perspective than I do — someone who lives in the dorms and is a traditional student.”

After Dunham is sworn in she needs to fill the position within 10 days, and her choice will need to be approved by next year’s Student Senate for it to be finalized. The future office holder will get a yearly stipend of $3,000, which Dunham says is less money than most work study jobs. Dunham said the stipend is also not certain because next year’s Student Senate needs to approve the budget recommendations from this year’s Student Senate.

Student Senator Joshua Dodge, a sophomore political science major, wrote the recommendation for the Student Senate to approve the new position. Dodge said that since the position is new, the duties of the vice president have not been decided and that this could create problems in the next academic year.

“There is also the possibility that the vice president will end up doing all of the work,” said Dodge, “and the president will receive all of the appreciation and benefits of that work they didn’t do.”

Dunham said that some of her job responsibilities will include making political recommendations to the Student Senate. She will also have to attend Student and Faculty Senate meetings as well. In some cases, Dunham will be present at what she referred to as confidential Faculty Senate meetings. She will also be required to serve on all university committees and work with student representatives to the board of trustees.

Since Dunham is a busy non-traditional student, taking care of her children while commuting to school for a full course load and the student presidency, she said that a vice president will come in handy with helping her perform her job to its greatest potential.

Dodge agrees with Dunham. He said that if the student body president is busy with other job requirements and unable to appear at SGA meetings or with the administration, then the vice president will be able to step in to bridge the gap.

“I don’t think anyone coming into this job understands the magnitude of the work,” Dodge went on to say, “but they find out how daunting it is quickly. No matter how much planning a president-elect can do before being sworn in, they can’t plan for everything the job requires.”

Dodge said that there are provisions to prevent these kinds of problems with office holders. Should the vice president feel that they are doing more work than fits their job description, they can file a complaint to the Violation Inquiry Committee, a committee that, Dodge explained, acts as a judiciary board, handing out verdicts and punishments for violations to the student senate constitution.

“Despite the issues of figuring out what the vice president will do and how to manage the workload,” Dodge said, “the duties of the new office holder will develop over time. The student government association can’t trim down the duties of the president because the services are necessary to help maintain the student body.”