The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

FLAMES OF THE TORCH: SGI election raises questions

The 2010-2011 Student Government
representatives were elected on
Tuesday with 1,619 undergraduate students
voting. This is a major increase
from years past – back in 2007, only
450 students voted, double the amount
of students who voted in 2006.

But while voter turnout in this year’s
election reached a recent high at 1,619
students, this is still under 20 percent
of the University’s total undergraduate
population, which is 10,351. So while
the reaction from the newly elected
students and their supporters was joyous
in the Student Activity Lounge
of the D’Angelo Center, it seems the
majority of the University heaved
a heavy sigh of indifference.

Even though there has been improvement
in the number of students
casting ballots, the question still
arises: why such a low percentage of
participation? Why is it, year after
year, that only a small number of St.
John’s students care enough to cast
their votes for who will represent them
in student government?

One thing that cannot be attributed
to the low percentage turnout is the accessibility
of voting. Students had the
opportunity to vote Monday and Tuesday
in the D’Angelo Center, as well as
online. For interested students, the opportunity
to cast their votes was ample.

Still, while voter turnout has increased
over the past fi ve years, it seems
to have become stagnant this year. In
last year’s election, a similar 1,617 students
decided to vote. This means the
voter turnout has increased since last
year by a whopping two students.

This is a problem that Student
Government will have to grapple
with going forward. Unfortunately,
there doesn’t seem to be a surefi re
way to cure apathy in the student
body. It’s an unfortunate mystery that
seems to be unanswerable.

At the TORCH, the question of low
voter turnout from year to year has
led to much discussion. In the newsroom,
much has been debated over
the reasons for why less than 20
percent of students care about who
their SGI representatives are.

Our minimal coverage of the campaigning
has come under question,
and the same question perpetuates: are
people really interested in following the
SGI election? Based on the turnout, it
looks as if most students aren’t.

But, when considering the
platforms that comprised each
ticket, a possible reason arises
for the low student interest.

Both tickets’ campaigns were
based on seemingly meaningless
promises. For example, the P.A.R.T.Y
ticket promised to do such things as
“Progress Academics,” “Strengthen
Advisement,” create “Better Representatives,”
and “Taking Academic
Concerns to the Highest Level.”

On the other side, the UNITE
ticket promised to “Improve the commuter
experience,” “Utilize student
feedback to enhance campus life,”
and “Increase student engagement
through weekend programming.”

All of these things sound like great
ideas that could improve the student
experience, but what exactly do they
mean? More importantly, how do they
propose to do these things?

Right now, it appears that many
students do not have much faith in the
power of Student Government. Considering
this, maybe the best way for SGI
to achieve more votes would be to demonstrate
the power they do have and
show students the things that have been
accomplished in the past.

We’ve seen some improvement
in recent years, but more
is needed for SGI to fully be a
voice for the student body.

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