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Low participation mars election of Student Senate

Student+Senate+convenes+for+the+first+time+on+Sunday+at+JRC101
Student Senate convenes for the first time on Sunday at JRC101

Fall 2019 Student Government Association (SGA) elections saw historically low interest from potential candidates for Student Senate, with a similarly low voter turnout.

SGA President Regina Logan ’20, and SGA Administrative Coordinator Quinn Ercolani ’20, expressed enthusiasm about the results, but stressed the need for greater outreach so students are informed and excited about taking part in student governance.

Logan and Ercolani have different views on the precise causes of prevailing disinterest in Student Senate.

“Fall elections historically have the lowest turnout, both because we don’t have first-years running and because our Senators from the previous year go abroad in the fall. Also, fall elections aren’t conducted at the same time as SGA Cabinet elections. We saw [in last year’s spring elections] that we got the highest voter turnout we’ve ever seen [because of concurrent Cabinet elections]. There are a lot of factors that have caused this to not be the best election cycle historically,” said Ercolani.

Ercolani also believes the increased write-in candidates may amount to a simple numbers game. “Some people consider applying, and then they don’t, but then they see that only a handful of people actually went through the process and they think, ‘Well, what do I have to lose?’ If nobody else is running, you stand a pretty good chance of winning.” Write-in candidacies are a way for students to do just that, even after the official deadline has passed.

Logan emphasized the importance of examining why involvement is so low and how best the SGA can stimulate participation in the future. “There’s a pattern, over time, of less and less people running if you look at the last few years … One of the reasons I was excited to go from the Diversity and Outreach position I was in last year to the position [of President] was because I started to feel like it wasn’t an issue of needing to send more emails and put up more posters …  I hope that in this role I can make sure that our outreach regarding Student Senate is meaningful, and that people have a reason to show up the first time around.”

Nonetheless, both Ercolani and Logan are excited about the new Senate.

“It’s a really good crop of Senators this year. They’re all wonderful people, and I’m really looking forward to working with them,” Ercolani said.

Logan expressed similar optimism: “So many people stepped up after seeing that we didn’t have enough people … They showed up and became leaders in a way that was necessary.”

Student Senate convenes for the first time on Sunday at JRC101
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