Students continue to neglect SA elections

It’s not turning out to be a close or exciting Student Association election, but it’s an important one. And for all the wrong reasons.

As of right now, there’s only one official candidate for SA president and not a soul running for comptroller. A pitiful turnout for two of the most powerful student positions on campus. Even though they make it possible for the student fee to fund all the concerts, speakers and campus publications we all enjoy for little or no extra cost, it doesn’t keep students from avoiding the polls each November.

SA’s codes state that at least 10 percent of the undergraduate student population must participate in the election during the five polling days. If that number isn’t reached, then the polls remain open for one more day and the winner is determined regardless of how many students vote. Last year, according to The Daily Orange, only 1,325 undergrads voted, barely making it past the 10 percent mark.

And last year, there were two candidates to choose from for president.

This year, SA is instituting a new voting system through MySlice with hopes that students will take the opportunity to vote while using the service to register for spring semester classes. The SA election coincides almost perfectly with peak registration times, so with any luck, students won’t have any excuses not to vote. It couldn’t be more convenient.

The problem is that with such a short list of candidates (see: ‘one’), students will be less likely to vote no matter how easy it is. If voter turnout was bad when there actually was a contest between two candidates, why would students even bother to vote in an election when they already know the outcome?

As far as events and policies go, SA has been on the upswing for the past two sessions. It has brought us an impressive roster of speakers and funded student organizations without much of the controversy and bickering that dominated budget meetings three years ago. The challenge now is to get students involved, and it starts with voting.

SA has always had a problem with student recognition and making its presence known on campus. With the deadline for president and comptroller candidates quickly approaching, the assembly should do its best to encourage anyone else considering one of the two positions to run, if only for the sake of getting more students involved in the process. They have until Nov. 5 to make up their minds.

Marlene Goldenberg, who announced her candidacy for SA president last week, is aware that she may be running unopposed, but she said in a telephone interview that she will continue her campaign as planned.

‘I’ll probably have to prove my plans even more,’ she said of being the only presidential candidate.

It’s a good attitude to have, but it’s unfortunate that someone running for the head of an organization as powerful as SA must make such a statement. Student involvement with SA must begin with more than just one student leader who is willing to set out a platform to improve the undergraduate experience here. The more there are, the more willing students will be to take part in the process.

Steve Kovach is a biweekly columnist for The Daily Orange. He can be reached at sjkovach@gmail.com.

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