SGA special elections should be better publicizedBy Alex Smith | 10/08/2017 9:39pm
On October 10th, at 7 a.m., the Student Government Association will commence voting for not only Homecoming Queen, but vacated Senate seats as well. Senators are routinely elected in the spring and serve a one-year term beginning in April. There are occasional instances where Senators are unable to assume their official role or perhaps resign from their seat.
While this fall election provides students with the opportunity to become involved with the SGA Senate, no students are able to take advantage of this opportunity if the election is not properly advertised or communicated to the student body.
Even though the fall application for SGA Senate was available on the official SGA website, students were not informed by the Elections Board or SGA that seats were open in a timely or well-advertised manner.
They posted on both the SGA Facebook and Instagram accounts the day of the Senate interest meeting, making it difficult for students to attend. Additionally, this meeting was only four days before the deadline to apply and each of those accounts have only around 2,000 followers, a small fraction of campus. Unless students were actively seeking out information regarding the fall Senate election, there was no way to readily access this application.
There appears to be a major disconnect between SGA so adamantly encouraging students to join the organization and properly communicating the opportunities to do so when they become available. The Senate branch of the SGA is arguably one of the most powerful branches. Senators are afforded the opportunity to craft legislation that can have a meaningful impact on the student body. These elections are often wildly competitive and seats are heavily sought after.
Just because the election occurs for these open Senate seats during a non-traditional time does not devalue the importance of electing a deserving individual to a seat.
Both SGA and the Elections Board did the students of this University a disservice by not properly advertising information about this special election. Both groups should be held accountable for relaying such important information in a timely fashion to the student body. When SGA and the Elections Board do not effectively inform, students cannot participate or engage. Spring elections are heavily covered and promoted and fall elections should be no different.
Given the lack of timely communication, the special Senate election should have been pushed back to a later date. Students were not give enough time to seriously contemplate or even plan a campaign to run for office. There are often hours that go into this process and it takes more than a couple of hours to even build a team.
Though Elections Board has a detailed timeline on their website, there should also be some sort of established announcement and publication of this information. The SGA Senate could even pass a resolution themselves, outlining the communication standards for both general and special elections. This would ensure that students are aware of any and all opportunities they have to pursue an elected position.
While I would like to believe that this was not the original intention of either the Elections Board or SGA, there needs to be some type of standard established for disseminating information regarding elections. Rules cannot be changed during the election, but the precedent must be set and it must be set immediately.
More than one or two students should be pursuing this Senate seat. Had this opportunity been properly publicized, there probably would be. Participating in the elections process is such a special experience. It is my hope that the Elections Board and SGA will make this opportunity not only more accessible, but also public.