Think fast. Name three members of this past year’s Student Government at St. John’s. If you’re having trouble, don’t worry because neither can I. Awareness is one of the many issues that Dana Lezama will face as the newly-elected president of Student Government Incorporated.
President-elect Lezama led the S.E.R.V.I.C.E. ticket to a clean sweep of the student government elections over the opposing R.I.S.E. ticket in an election that doubled the voter turnout of last year. Lezama’s victory over R.I.S.E. presidential candidate Daphne Pierre was a closer tally than any other race that was decided on the day. The dramatic voter turnout increase of more than 100 percent is very impressive and is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the candidates on both tickets who were involved with the feverish campaigning that took place over the past few weeks.
But despite more than doubling last year’s voter turnout, still only 1,277 of St. John’s 11,855 full-time undergraduate students voted in this year’s election, a paltry 10 percent.
As Lezama becomes the first Caribbean female in the school’s history to hold the reins of the presidency, one can only wonder if she plans to address the apparent sentiment that this campus doesn’t care about who is leading and representing their students. It seems that if she plans to serve her term under the guidelines of her platform, this issue may be addressed.
One would think that Lezama and the rest of the newly elected SGI officials from the S.E.R.V.I.C.E. ticket will need a little bit more than 10 percent of the school’s support and input if they plan to create a more enthused campus as they pledged to do in their platform outline. The idea of participation can and should be stapled next to the focal point of “enthusiasm” as an integral effect to the ticket’s worthy cause.
Unfortunately, it seems that election time signals the height of visibility for the elected student officials at St. John’s. Where is their presence during the beginning stages of the school year when freshmen wait to be submersed in the college experience and returning students look to be captivated by the progress and improvement of the school? Though we may see the SGI name displayed around the campus, how often do we see the actual individuals that make up our Student Government once we elect them?
The students at St. John’s need a Student Government that isn’t hesitant to show its face everywhere on campus. Successfully involving a larger population of the students with the University is dependent on SGI making itself more visible than ever before. A student’s only memorable encounter with their Student Government officials should not be the time when they got a flyer shoved in their face on the way to Montgoris. It is not enough to be available. Students don’t have time to chase down their elected officials. They need to be served. A ticket that adopts the acronym of S.E.R.V.I.C.E. should deliver on that promise.
This year’s newly elected officials cannot resign themselves to the second floor of the University Center, where the SGI office is located. They should engage themselves with the entire St. John’s student body as often as possible. The next time our leaders are in Marillac waiting in line at Taco Bell or Burger King, they should tap the person in front and ask them how to make St. John’s better. Maybe asking the students what they think is the way to get people to care about who is leading the students on this campus.