New director named for First Year Council

Katherine Martin

Kelly Watson, former deputy communications director of First Year Council, was confirmed as the organization’s director last Thursday night at the Student Government Association Senate meeting, SGA Communications Director Seth Morrow said.

Watson replaced Sara Lavender, who resigned last Wednesday night after allegations that multiple violations of the SGA Code of Laws may have occurred during the initial First Year Council application review process. Last year, Watson served as the Assistant Communications Director for Academic Affairs.

Zach Freeman, associate justice of the SGA judicial, said he overheard several conversations among members of the committee about which applicants to award high enough scores to get an interview.

Morrow said there is an ongoing investigation and the SGA cannot comment on any of the allegations. Lavender is no longer serving in the SGA.

“I am dedicated to overseeing a First Year Council selection process that operates fairly while recognizing the immediacy of making selections,” Watson said.

Lauren Hardison, chairman of the SGA Committee on Ethics said she has full confidence in Watson and her vision for the application review process and for the future of First Year Council.

An email was sent out to all First Year Council applicants informing them of a new selection process. Applicants will reapply though an online application that will guarantee a blind application process, which means no personal identifying information will be included on the applications when they are scored.

The online application must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30. Students who receive an interview will be notified by Monday, Oct. 3 and interviews will be held from Oct. 5 through Oct. 7.

“The new online process will ensure that all applicants have an equal chance of being selected,” Watson said. “Since I was not involved in the previous process, I am confident my fresh perspective will move First Year Council and SGA forward.”

First Year Council began in 2007, designed to be the voice for freshman students at UA, Morrow said. The organization functions similarly to the SGA senate, passing legislation pertaining to the first year experience. Most SGA leaders begin their ascent in student government through First Year Council. This year, a record-high 600 students applied to fill one of the 50 positions available.

Will Pylant, a former First Year Council member, said the organization provides freshman students with a great opportunity for involvement with SGA.

“While members of First Year Council write resolutions on a variety of issues, most address issues pertinent to freshman students,” Pylant said. “First Year Councilors connect with freshmen by holding dorm meetings, hosting tailgates on the Quad and hanging posters and information in the dorms. Additionally, First Year Council members are asked to help with SGA-wide projects and attend SGA-wide meetings.”