We at The Gatepost are taken aback by the dismal voter turnout in this year’s Student Government Association election.
A whopping 3.1 percent of students voted. To put that in context, there are over 5,000 students on this campus.
Only 177 of them voted.
While it’s no secret student involvement on campus has been on the decline in the last few years, there aren’t any justifiable reasons more students didn’t vote.
As the adage goes, voting is a citizen’s civic duty. Many people don’t think to vote in local elections, let alone college campus elections, but they are still vital. The student government decides where your money is being spent. When you deposit the $70 for your student activities fee, SGA is deciding where that money goes next.
SGA members vote on what to do with those funds when faced with requests from clubs.
If hearing that $17,000 is being spent on hand dryers or $5,000 on promotional items surprises or upsets you, it would bene t you to participate in the elections of your SGA representatives.
We at The Gatepost believe there are a number of factors that contributed to this year’s poor turnout and would like to offer some suggestions to SGA.
While Dean of Students Meg Nowak sent out a campus-wide email encouraging students to vote, there was little advertisement about the election around campus. Furthermore, the two candidates running for SGA president did little to no campaigning.
In fact, one of the candidates didn’t attend Candidates’ Night at all so, it’s not that surprising more students weren’t aware of the importance of this election.
Additionally, other than the presidency, every position was uncontested. Many of the candidates also chose not to speak at Candidates’ Night.
In any election, it’s important to know what issues your representatives will be championing.
In the future, it would be bene cial if SGA created more opportunities for the campus community to be involved in the election. With more widespread advertising both on social media and around campus, students would have a better opportunity to be involved in the election process.
More events promoting the importance of student government are also needed to garner interest from the student body.
Why was Candidates’ Night the only planned event for students to hear from the nominees? Why wasn’t there a planned debate between Ben Carrington and Adam Scanlon, the two students running for president?
If students were given more opportunities to learn about their prospective SGA representatives, they would be better informed on how to cast their vote.
There should also be more voting booths set up in other parts of the campus, including the library and the athletic center. It should also be made clearly that students don’t have to vote at one of SGA’s designated tables. They may also vote on Ramlink on either their computer or phone.
It is the responsibility of individual students to participate in voting, but it is the student government’s responsibility to ensure every student is made aware of the resources available for them to vote.