On Tuesday, Sept. 22, students will access their online Blackboard polls to vote for respective SGA candidates. Yet, some students will find certain races void of any candidates.
With 17 races total, eight of the 12 Senate races and three of the five Class of 2013 races do not have any candidates running. SGA Parliamentarian Louis Ritzinger, Class of 2010, attributes the lack of participation to “a non-confrontational campus and the fear of the time commitment,” and considers it “a huge disappointment.”
According to Ritzinger, this is “a very important year for the SGA.” On the agenda is a complete restructuring of the club system and a dwindling “special carry over fund,” which is nearly empty. Junior Kyle McGrath, candidate for Townhouse Senator, agreed and when asked about the low SGA participation this year, said, “People need to understand there is a difference between your college and high school SGA. The [College] SGA handles hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The lack of competitiveness combined with low student interest and participation has created not only vacancies in SGA positions but also missed legislative opportunities. Last year two student referendums were presented to the student body, passage of which required at least one-third of the student body voting. The first referendum was approved with 561 affirmative votes and 64 nay votes, just over one-third of the student body while the second referendum did not obtain enough votes.
Yet some students are getting more involved. Senior Warren Samuels, candidate for commuter Senator said, “I’ve realized how much of a voice we have as students and how important it is to use that voice.” Samuels went further to say that apathetic students, “whether they are interested or not, should get interested.”
Both McGrath and Samuels had their own ideas to increase participation in SGA. Samuels said, “The only way I could see participation increasing dramatically is putting issues that people actually care about put to the test. SGA should do something drastic to force [students] to respond.” McGrath on the other hand thinks “[SGA] needs to start having really grand events. There are issues that people really want to speak out. We need to hold events like forums or other outside events other than the regular [SGA] meeting [student] speaking time.”
Despite few candidates running, Ritzinger does not “think it’s fair to say this represents a decline in SGA participation” and would “wait until next year” to see if it is a trend. Ritzinger also expects to see a number of write in candidates who get elected and particpate this year, potentially reducing the effect of few declared candidates.