by Ramin Gouhari
It’s student government election time at Salisbury University, but not every student knows it.
This should be a time when a spotlight illuminates the student government and its implications for the student body, but many at SU feel frustrated with the SGA.
As stated in the SGA’s preamble, part of the organization’s responsibility is to “improve the recognition of the responsibilities and involvement of students in an academic community,” yet many students do not feel involved in the election process.
“To be honest, I didn’t know that elections were even going on. I have not heard anything about who the candidates are, what they represent or when and why I should vote for them,” said SU student Simone Brown.
Brown is not the only one frustrated.
“We just get one week to hear who the candidates are and we’re expected to vote for names. Some candidates are unopposed, so there’s really no point in voting at all,” said SU student Megan Brown.
With this year’s election only drawing 497 students, or 5.6 percent of the student population, it is easy to see how some have become disillusioned with the process.
The current policy followed by the SU SGA stipulates that students are not allowed to announce their candidacy until the week of elections. The policy is intended to give all candidates an equal platform from which to run and potentially be elected.
Katherine Mooney, the newly elected SGA president for the fall, believes some of the disinterest can be attributed to SU students.
“I think that SGA elections are a hard thing to advertise and get students interested in,” Mooney said. “Many students either do not know what the Student Government Association is, or they do not care. I do not think this is any fault of SGA, but more a result of student apathy on campus.”
Other universities give their candidates multiple weeks to campaign.
“We have about a month to announce our candidacy and begin campaigning. By the end of the entire process we usually have several candidates and hundreds of students who come out to vote,” said Jen Pedraza, Vice President of the SGA for American University, Rome. “At AU in DC, elections are an even bigger deal and thousands of students come out to cast their votes, but even in Italy we take our SGA election process seriously. I can’t imagine condensing the entire process to a single week.”
Some students believe that disinterest in SGA elections is not a problem of their apathy, but rather in the regulations that are imposed on the elections that makes it harder for them to be properly prepared to be involved.
“When finding people to run is as difficult as finding people to vote, there’s a pretty serious problem,” said Youcef Menasria, SU political science student. “I think SU needs to take a look at the way they run their SGA elections if they have any hope of generating interest from students.”
While some students have little to no interest in SU’s SGA, Mooney believes that with time and change, the student body may gain greater appreciation for student government.
“I do not want to seem pessimistic about the attitude of our campus, because I know that many students really do care about who runs their organizations on campus, and that definitely shows,” Mooney said. “The student apathy is something that we can all work towards fixing, and I am hoping that it gets better in the near future.”
Whether or not students are aware and excited about the SGA, it seems clear that interest in the affairs of student government is dwindling. Allowing candidates to campaign for weeks may serve as a solution to this problem.
Although this year’s election week is over, time will tell whether or not SU will examine different strategies in bringing attention and excitement to SGA elections.
[twitter style="vertical" float="left"] [fblike style="standard" showfaces="false" width="450" verb="like" font="arial"] [fbshare type="button"]