Student Government elections will take place on March 28-29, both online and at polling sites in St. Augustine Hall and Marillac Cafeteria. For the first time since the 2003-04 academic year, the elections will include two full tickets, “M.O.T.I.V.A.T.E.” and “Make it Happen.”
“I think student government has become a little more high-profile for students than it was in the last few years,” said Darren Morton, associate dean of students for Student Life and an advisor for SGI. “The current members [of SGI] are, I think, more engaged, so they’re exercising their rights to compete.” He added, though, that “I don’t think we’re where we need to be yet.”
Although SGI recently voted to change its constitution, giving stipends to executive board members, Morton said that he does not believe it has had an affect on the number of candidates running.
“I think that the same students would have run even if that had not occurred,” he said.
Morton also said that St. John’s is introducing a number of new initiatives to improve voter turnout. He explained that, while elections were previously done in voting booths only, “this is the first year that executive board and senatorial elections are being conducted online.
“We’re utilizing a service called ‘Votenet,’ which actually saved us some money over the voting machines,” he said. He added that SGI signed a year-long subscription with the service, and during that time period they can use the service for as many elections or online polls as they want.
“I expect these elections to have a greater turn-out than in previous years [because of the online voting], it gives daytime and evening students an equal opportunity to vote,” Morton said.
He added that elections have also been marketed more this year than in previous years. In fact, a notice about the election has been posted on the front page of the St. John’s Central Web site.
“We also have the bios of the students who are running posted online,” Morton said. “It gives students an idea of who the candidates really are.”
The last SGI election to be fully contested was the 2003 election in which Fabrice Armand won the position of President on the ExCEL ticket and independent candidate Louis Saavedra defeated candidates from both tickets to win Vice President.
The controversial 2004 election narrowly missed being fully contested when one of the candidates for Senior Senator dropped out of the race suddenly before elections. The election would be won by the POWER ticket with Saavedra as president, though the results were unsuccessfully contested by the VISION ticket based on what it believed to be violations of campaign rules by the POWER ticket.