Only 40 students turned out to vote in the Student Government, Inc. class representative elections held Oct. 9 and 10.
Students cited poor advertising and lack of information as reasons for the low turnout.
Jennifer Iacopelli, a freshman majoring in sports management said, “I had not one clue that we had elections or any such thing as Student Government.”
“I saw maybe one sign about class reps,” Anita Baksh, a junior majoring in English and education, said.
“I had no idea about the time or the place of the election, or who was even running. I would have voted if it weren’t for the complete lack of information,” Baksh continued.
“I have never even heard of class reps before,” sophomore Brian Cashen, a theology major said. “I didn’t even know there was an office to campaign.”
There are two student representatives per class (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior) in each school of study and any student with an interest in Student Government can apply to any of the vacant positions available in their class.
“As many people that want to run can,” Aion Hoque, president of Student Government said. “On average, we give-out about 200 applications per year.”
All candidates must adhere to the mandatory campaigning guidelines that are available in the Representative Election packet distributed by Student Government.
All campaign materials were limited to standard-sized, 8 x 11 flyers and candidates are not permitted to campaign in any of the five residential buildings, classrooms or the Library.
Students can only place campaign flyers in the University Center, Montgoris Dining Hall and Marillac Cafeteria. A “one flyer per bulletin board” rule is also mandated under Student Government guidelines.
The use of University media, the St. John’s University slogan or logo, and negative campaigning is also not permitted.
“Voter apathy has become our major enemy,” vice president John Hewson said.
“Our public relations department is now our major focal point for this.”
In an attempt to encourage campaigning and increase voter turn-out this year, a budget for the Student Government Co-Op was created, allotting about $50 per candidate for printing and photocopies.
“We decided to add the campaigners names to the Co-Op budget, to encourage people to make flyers to post and to enhance their running for office,” Hewson said.
Student Government has also initiated a mission for the 2002-2003 school year to generate more student body involvement with class representatives by implementing different avenues of advertising.”
“The major key to our mission is to get government out there” Hewson said.
Plans to use the Student Government website to advertise the photos of each class representative will be implemented, according to Hewson.
This will allow students to contact their representative with the issue or problems so the representative can bring them to Student Government where it will be addressed.
Advertising the new positions that are available prior to an election willalso be done, Hewson said.
“I think it would be more beneficial to have it closer to the Residential Village to really hype it up,” Jonathan Rua, freshman class representative of the Tobin College of Business, said.
“We’re considering this for next year’s elections.”
The making of a research and projects committee within student government is also being discussed. The committee will be in charge of handing out surveys and monitoring the term by term problems and long term problems that plague St. John’s students “like parking” Hewson said.
Elections are held biannually and all other undergraduate upperclassmen are scheduled to vote for their class representatives in early March.