Nov. 9, 2015
On Nov. 5, the Student Government Association held a Senate meeting, during which they decided who would fill the vacant position of vice president, which was previously held by junior Ariana Borders, who resigned.
According to SGA’s constitution, under article X, the president will recommend an eligible student to the position, and then the Senate will vote whether or not to approve the nominee.
President Zach Woolweaver nominated Travis Tafoya as the new vice president. Tafoya was appointed by the Senate, but the nomination was met with some criticism.
Joseph Conrad, senator at large, asked “Is the student body even aware that this happened?”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Woolweaver said.
Woolweaver explained his nomination of Tafoya.
“He plays off my strengths well and I trust him completely. I would trust him with my life, honestly,” he said.
Conrad asked how Woolweaver reconciled selecting a vice president, who receives a stipend from student funds, without consulting the student body.
Woolweaver responded by stating that he and Borders were elected by the student body, and were entrusted by them to make the correct decision.
The SGA Constitution does not require a student vote for the filling of a vacant vice president position.
“I think under my powers, especially within the documents, (I can) make this decision autonomously,” Woolweaver said.
He added that he was glad the decision was being made in the largest senate meeting audience in a year. There were between 10 and 15 students present.
Tafoya is a junior psychology student. He is chapter president for Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the philanthropy chair. He has also been involved in various leadership trainings, and works in the pre-collegiate development program.
Conrad asked if Tafoya would have time to conduct his SGA duties along with his other commitments.
“I’ve been involved in all these things, and I don’t do them lightly. I don’t put half effort into anything,” said Tafoya.
Tafoya continued by explaining he had started in Sigma Alpha Epsilon as a freshman. Within a year and a half, he got the organization chartered at the national level and at UCCS.
Tafoya explained that he did not take the situation lightly, representing the student body and being elected by the senate.
Woolweaver said he would not have nominated Tafoya if he did not feel Tafoya could manage his time.
Tafoya added he would step down from the pre-collegiate development program if selected to dedicate time to his role as vice president.
Woolweaver said there were several candidates under consideration.
“I considered a few actually, more than 10,” he said to the senate.
Woolweaver said he discussed the decision with Borders, SGA Director of Finance Erin Bolinger, SGA Advisor Sabrina Wienholtz, and SGA Graduate Assistant Sarah Long. He said they thought Tafoya would be “fantastic for the position.”
It was also noted by Conrad that “the SGA is not the most cohesive group of people,” and he asked how Tafoya would foster a better working community.
Tafoya responded that he had experience in getting others to come together during his time with SAE.
Tafoya said he worked with the chapter to acknowledge differences between returning and new brothers, but also worked to explain they were all there for the same purpose.
The vote was then cast, and Tafoya was confirmed with eight in favor, one against.
In an interview the next day, Tafoya said he was “very excited about the position.”
Tafoya also laid out his next steps as vice president.
“Definitely the first thing I’m going to do is try to get a better understanding of how the organization is functioning now,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot in the past few weeks reading the documents, and I’ve done a lot with the university the past few years understanding how student government works, and what they’re role here is,” he said.
Tafoya explained he will facilitate the leadership and development training internal to the SGA.
“That’s going to be one of my biggest goals, is helping the members of SGA grow in their leadership abilities and understanding what their role is here on campus,” he said.
Tafoya added that he wants to work toward getting more student participation in student government.
“I think a big part is just inviting them. I think a lot of students are either unaware, or some students may be uninterested. I think a big part is to just to promote that and give them the knowledge that they may want, and if they want it, it’s there for them to take,” he said.
Currently, the positions for senators of Education, Engineering, and Sustainability are open along with senator at large. Students interested in applying can find the application on Mountain Lion Connect or email SGA at firstname.lastname@example.org.