To anyone walking around campus last November, it was obvious that a big election was taking place. Light posts were adorned with fliers, students standing outside the library were encouraging students to register, debate viewing parties were organized, and students flaunted their preferred candidate with buttons and bumper stickers. The spirit of the election was in the air.
Next week, another big election will take place, yet many students may be unaware that it is even going on.
On Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24, voting for the 2009 Student Government Executive Board will take place.
According to the St. John’s Web site, Student Government “is responsible for the coordination and regulation of the undergraduate student activities and organizations on campus.” Organization budgets are controlled solely by SGI and they also work with other committees to plan events throughout the year.
Any student involved in an organization or who wants to attend any of the concerts or carnivals on campus has a vital interest in how SGI is run.
Therefore, it would only make sense that students would want to have a say in who holds positions in Student Government.The two tickets for the upcoming election, VISION and P.R.I.D.E., both have good ideas and suggestions that would benefit the school community.
The students on the VISION ticket have emphasized that you do not have to be a longstanding member of student government to run for its positions or to be involved in it.
The P.R.I.D.E. candidates have some unique ideas to get organizations more active, like setting up an “Organization of the Month” program to offer incentives to groups for their service.
For an organization with so much influence on the University, SGI elections should be prominent in the school community.
The most recent debate, though, showed otherwise. Approximately 25 to 30 students attended the event, though thousands of students are on campus on any given day.How are students expected to turn out and cast well-informed votes if they haven’t been exposed to the candidates and their platforms?
The problem is simple: timing.
The timing of the election process could make it hard for students to get involved, or even care. Nomination of the candidates was announced on Feb. 24.
The two debates meant to introduce students to the candidates were held in rapid succession after that announcement, and they took place on days that made it hard for students to attend.
The first debate was held on March 5, the week after the candidates were announced and the week before spring break. That was also midterm week, which made it a very hectic time for students. The result was a relatively small student turnout of about 15 to 20 people.
The second debate, which also had a low turnout, was held on the first day back from vacation when students were busy getting reoriented to classes, activities, and the routine of the college workload.
In the future, perhaps SGI campaigns should start much earlier, in order to give students time to get involved and to learn what benefits each ticket could bring to St. John’s.
With more time to campaign and raise awareness, SGI elections could potentially grow into an event that a majority of students could get excited about.
Otherwise, Student Government election day runs the risk of coming and going without nearly as much student attention as it rightfully deserves.