Shippensburg University’s Student Government Association confirmed Seth Edwards to be the new vice president of external affairs despite internal disagreement on the process used.
The process to select a vice president of external affairs restarted after concerns were raised over the partiality of the Executive Rules Committee (ERC). The second vote was completed after candidates submitted a blind application. The applications were assigned a number to maintain the anonymity of the applicant and then reviewed and voted on by SGA during a private caucus. At this point, Edwards’ name was revealed to be on the application that obtained the most votes.
Vice President of Internal Affairs Isaac Dietrich ran the meeting and officiated the vote. President Aven Bittinger did not officially participate in the meeting and sat in the gallery with the public.
Ben Stine, senator of commuter students, initiated the motion to confirm Edwards as the new vice president.
The Executive Rules Committee all voted in abstention before the senators joined the vote. More abstentions piled on until they outranked the “yes” votes 17 to 12. Nobody voted against the confirmation of Edwards.
Dietrich announced during the meeting that the vote failed; however, it was later explained Edwards was confirmed because the abstentions do not count in the voting process.
Sen. Rob Giulian, who voted in favor of Edwards during the blind caucus and confirmation process, said, “I had full confidence in Seth based on his responses to these questions."
"It was totally unbiased and confidential. We went into it blind, and I think we picked a great candidate,” Giulian said.
Chase Slenker, who is a senator for the class of 2023, said he abstained from the vote because he disagreed with the process.
“After the second process for selection was chosen, applicants had to apply with information that would not give away their identity,” Slenker said. “Nothing on previous experience in SGA or at-large was included. Defining characteristics of their character that are experience-based were removed."
“I did not know the name of the candidate nor their previous experience in SGA when making our closed-door vote on whom to recommend at formal,” Slenker said.
“I felt that SGA did not conduct a proper process,” Slenker said. “I know that Seth will do a great job and am glad he is filling the role and believe he will do an excellent job.”
Members of SGA may abstain from a vote for any number of personal reasons, including conflicts of interest or lack of enough information to make an informed decision.
Sens. Nora Ormsbee and Lucas Everidge both applied for the position of Vice President of External Affairs, and both abstained from confirming Edwards because they were not in the private caucus vote and did not have access to his responses. Additionally, they decided to abstain because they had an inherent bias toward themselves as candidates for the position. However, the two both said they have confidence in Edwards as a vice president of external affairs.
Dietrich said the process was left undefined in the constitution. Therefore, the ERC attempted to base the process of replacing Wert as closely as possible to the process for replacing senators.
SGA President Aven Bittinger did not respond to The Slate’s request for an interview by the time the publication went to press.
Sens. Jonathan Benner, Joshua Bream, Rachel Bruno, Alex Dihn, Robert Giulian, Olivia Gregory, Sierra Gutierrez, Alicia Hawkins, Megan Nardi, Jordan Newsome-Little, Christina Rudy and Ben Stine all voted to confirm Edwards.
ERC members Dietrich, Meredith Scarr, Ramses Ovalles and Stephen Washington all voted in abstention. They were joined by sens. Everidge, Katie Fischetti, Ryan Gandy, Mike Lingard, Jessica Munoz, Esther Nganinga, Ormsbee, Slenker, Ashley Smith, Isaiah Smith, Anthony Tarpeh and Danielle Williams.