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New SGA VP Michelle Vanhala: Business as usual, despite changes

Big Rapids senior Michelle Vanhala was sworn in as Vice President for the Student Government Association Monday night in Anspach 162.  "I'm honored to be promoted to Vice President," Vanhala said. "I am very excited to be continuing what Killian has started and finishing the year strong." (Taylor Ballek/Staff Photographer)

Big Rapids senior Michelle Vanhala was sworn in as Vice President for the Student Government Association Monday night in Anspach 162. “I’m honored to be promoted to Vice President,” Vanhala said. “I am very excited to be continuing what Killian has started and finishing the year strong.” (Taylor Ballek/Staff Photographer)

Michelle Vanhala was sworn in as the Student Government Association Vice President Monday night following Killian Richeson’s recent resignation.

Vanhala, a Big Rapids senior, becomes the third vice president under Justin Gawronski’s administration after Richeson resigned Wednesday citing health concerns.

Richeson said the decision was not one he wanted but one he had to make.

“Health and academics are essential, and those had to come first,” the Hesperia senior said. “I’m a little down; SGA is an organization that I love, and to work my way to such a high position has been an honor.”

Vanhala has repeatedly said she does not plan to bring her own agenda into the vice presidential office but only wants to fill the shoes of Richeson. Richeson said he has full confidence in Vanhala as the new vice president.

“I have absolute faith in Michelle,” Richeson said. “She’s a smart girl, she’s incredibly talented, and she was incredible as a Senate leader.”

Richeson said he will be passing down many of his goals for the semester to Vanhala, including plans for a massive overhaul of the SGA by-laws.

“I completed a lot of the base work over winter break,” Richeson said. “I plan to take part in instituting those changes, even if from a non-official platform.”

Gawronski, a Macomb junior, said he doesn’t want the student body to lose confidence in the SGA.

“It’s a very unfortunate thing,” Gawronski said. “It devalues the experience of the position, something I never want to see happen.”

Vanhala said she was grateful for the ease in which the SGA accepted her new role as vice president.

“I understand the concern,” Vanhala said in reference to the high turnover rate of the vice president office. “… I really appreciate how flexible everybody has been.”

New Senate leader elected

Sean Kolhoff was elected Senate leader by the SGA Senate Monday night with a 13-2 victory over Chesterfield Township sophomore Charles Mahone. Kolhoff replaces Vanhala.

Kolhoff said he plans to waste no time in getting the SGA Senate back to work.

“I’m going to jump in with both feet first,” Kolhoff said. “I’m going to do what I can do, so that everyone can hit the ground running.”

Concerns were raised at Monday’s meeting over whether the Senate elections were happening too soon. With Richeson’s sudden resignation, possible candidates were only notified of the vacant position Sunday evening.

Taylor Gehrcke, a Comstock Park sophomore and SGA senator, raised a motion Monday night to delay the Senate leader election until the next Senate meeting. The motion was defeated 9-8.

“I feel like this was not an ideal way to proceed; this could have been done differently,” Gehrcke said. “But, I have to respect the choice that was made.”

Vanhala said  Kolhoff is an ideal choice to replace her as Senate leader.

“I’m excited to see what he’s going to do,” she said. “We both started in the SGA close to the same time, and working with him has always been a great experience.”

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