Students elect new SGA leadership team

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Nick Frisina , Staff Writer

The Student Government Association (SGA) announced Saturday that Matthew Schlessman, a junior chemistry/pre-dental major, was elected as president and Derrick Gernatt, a junior dual accounting and economics major, was elected as the chief of staff  for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Schlessman and Gernatt won the election, beating the opposing ticket, Brandon Boyce, a junior math and psychology major, and Dominique Booker, a junior accounting major.

The voting began Wednesday and concluded late Thursday night. However, the results were not officially announced until Saturday.

According to an Instagram post from the official SGA account, there were reports of alleged violations.

The SGA elections committee investigated and made group decisions based on the alleged violations before the results could be announced to the student body.

Schlessman said he is excited that he won and is looking forward to getting to work.

“The feeling of winning is quite nice,” Schlessman said. “The real pleasure is to know that I can change the way how SGA has been operating so the student body can be better off and know what is going on around campus.”

Schlessman has been a member of SGA since his first year as a student at Gannon.

Schlessman said the reason he joined SGA was because he wanted to take action to better the student body.

“I thought I can make a positive impact on students and project their voices on a level that has never been seen before,” he said.

The idea to run for president came after he began to notice a disconnect between the SGA and the student body. Many of his campus friends experienced a lack of transparency with SGA and were unsure of how they could voice their concerns.

Running on a campaign promise to instill transparency, accountability, clarity and kinship between the student body and the SGA, Schlessman said he thinks he has the idea to do this.

“The plan that I have for this position is to build positive relationships with the administration, faculty and the student body,” Schlessman said.

“We are going to implement these promises with a cabinet that consists of all realms of the student body such as student-athletes, international students, commuters and diverse groups just to name a few,” Schlessman said.

Cabinet members will serve to address problems that they see on campus and offer solutions to combat these problems.

“It will help SGA become more transparent to the student body because these cabinet members can relay messages back to their constituents and spread the word of what is occurring on campus,” Schlessman said.

Gernatt, who also serves as treasurer for the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, is new to the SGA scene.

Although he lost a previous executive board election, he decided to join the Schlessman ticket because he was frustrated with the way things were going.

“I got involved because I saw a lot of things that simply were not getting done; this was primarily due to student voices getting ignored,” Gernatt said. “I also saw a lot of preferential treatment within the organization, which is where I see reform being required to ensure all students receive fair treatment.”

In addition to supporting the president and the executive board, Gernatt hopes to implement a new program in his role, called the “Big Pie Initiative.”

“It’s a plan to give student organizations more incentive to fundraise for themselves,” Gernatt said. “This would ultimately lead to an increase in the money supply resulting in more overall consumption by the students, while also allowing them to derive utility from the fundraisers.”

After becoming close friends in their early days at Gannon, Gernatt is excited to get to work with his running mate.

“We work well together in an effective and constructive manner; he has a lot of motivation, a lot of big ideas and he genuinely cares for the students’ overall well-being,” Gernatt said. “Matt is someone whose back I’m happy to have; he is a leader I’m happy to follow and I was ecstatic about becoming the chief of staff.”

Gernatt and Schlessman were roommates when Schlessman held the chief of staff position two terms ago.

Schlessman chose Gernatt due to his unique leadership style.

“Most people will tell you the most important aspects of leadership are listening and compromise,” Gernatt said. “Those are great and all, but you need to listen and respond. My goal is to make sure everyone is considering all the possibilities no matter how crazy they seem.”

Gernatt said the most important part of his position is others.

“Overall, my goal is to support the rest of the executive board in achieving their individual goals so that we as a student government can find the most valuable ways to serve the students,” Gernatt said.

Schlessman and Gernatt, in their new roles, stressed the point that they will be there for the students.

“I do not want any students to feel like their voices are not being heard,” Schlessman said.

“Derrick and I welcome any student to talk to us freely about whatever they want. I have met too many students that believe no one is listening to them but that is no longer true because we’re here for the students to take action so their lives can be better off.”

NICK FRISINA

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