SGA elections challenge student apathy

The Student Government Association will host university-wide elections Feb. 21 and 22. The electronic voting process is open to all current students, but participation in SGA events and issues are not a top priority for some students, according to Sam Warren, SGA executive president.

“I don’t think necessarily all the time that people have the interest to come in and ask questions or go through the records,” Warren said.

This political disinterest on campus fluctuates, according to Rachel Long, SGA executive vice president. In previous elections, candidates in many slots have run unopposed, but SGA expects to eliminate many vacancies in the upcoming election.

“Last year, as far as regular elections in the spring, we had a little bit of a dip, but the year before was a really high surge,” Long said. “Just in talking in the office and hearing people outside of SGA running, it looks like a lot of races will be contested this year.”

Wavering commitment from students challenges SGA.

“It’s sort of a catch-22 because you want every race to be contested, but you want every race to be contested by people that want to 100 percent be there,” Long said. “We’ve been fortunate that every position that’s been filled, those people have always been really dedicated.”

Elon’s emphasis on engaged learning and global citizenship encourages students to be dedicated participants in extracurricular activities, but according to Grant De Roo, the election committee co-chair, such engagements may deter students from participating in SGA.

“Ideally, there would be a number of students running for each position, but the reality is that they might not have the time to commit to the Student Government Association,” De Roo said.

Although time commitments and indifference stifle student involvement, the SGA executive staff has taken strides toward making a clearer presence on campus.

“People have discussed running for some pretty major decisions that weren’t on the senate this legislative year, “ Long said. “I think that kind of is a physical representation of how we’ve been trying to make SGA a more integral part of campus.”

This integration began in April 2011, when the newly elected executive staff responded to skepticism from campus.

“Transparency was one of the pushpoints that we felt really strongly about because a lot of things came up last year where SGA was questioned in that aspect,” she said. “I think that we’ve done a really good job making information public. We’ve done really well to push transparency this year and make issues known to the student body, but at the same time, people have to want to know about the issues.”

With transparency well established, SGA executives hope for increased student involvement during the upcoming election.

“I want to encourage people to take those risks,” Warren said. “It takes a week or two to figure things out, but go for it because it’s really a friendly organization once you get in and aren’t intimidated by the structure and parliamentary procedure behind it.”

Applications for class officer positions are due Thursday, Feb. 9.

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