The online polls for Student Government Association elections opened up today at 8 a.m. and you may notice the ballot is a bit more sparse than usual.
This year, only 15 students decided to run for a student senator seat, the bare minimum required to fill the student senate. This means every student running will get a seat in the senate even if they don’t win the representative seat for their particular division.
No one will be running to represent the humanities, business, or education divisions.
The nursing division, the non-traditional/graduate division, and the arts and letters division each only have one candidate running.
However, 10 of the 15 candidates running will be competing for the science and mathematics seat. Seven of these students are biology majors, two are chemistry majors, and one is a biochemistry major.
There is only one executive ticket this year, consisting of sophomore biology major Marisa Zayat as president, sophomore biology major Thao Nguyen as vice president, junior biology major Adrienne Esposito as secretary, and junior accounting major Kyle Mazza as treasurer.
Dakota Heard, a history and education major, is one of the three senators not seeking re-election and not graduating this year. He said he is not returning because he does not believe he will have the time since he starts his thesis next semester.
Nguyen, who has spent two years in the senate, said there always seemed to be a disproportionate amount of science majors running for SGA compared to other majors but that the difference has never been as significant as this year.
“It might just be that students are overly busy. I don’t know what an average day looks like for students in other departments,” he said. “But also it could just be bad advertising of the SGA elections, or some people just don’t know what SGA is, or don’t want to fill that role.”
Senior Jacob Hobbie, an IT major and the current business senator representative, said he wishes more people in other divisions would have run for SGA.
“Obviously I have concerns, but at the same time, if there’s no one who wants to step-up from the business department, there’s nothing I can do about that and nothing SGA can do about that,” he said.
Zayat said although next year’s SGA appears science-heavy, she does not believe it will play a role in the decisions SGA makes as a whole.
“This past year I didn’t see much of the schools competing against one another when it came to voting…but I really saw them working together to make positive change, so I don’t think it will be much of a conflict,” she said.
Zayat also said she thinks one reason for the low turnout might be because sign-ups were directly after spring and Easter break, when SGA was not at the top of students’ minds.
“I do hope more arts, or history, or nursing students apply for SGA in the future to make it more well-rounded and evenly spread across all the schools,” Zayat said.
Since this year’s SGA voted to add another freshman senator seat, two senate seats will be available to incoming freshmen who want to run in the fall semester instead of one.
Typically, a presidential debate is held in the Mabee Dining Center but because there was only one candidate, the executive ticket participated in a public Q&A forum on Wednesday instead.
At the forum, Zayat and Nguyen said they’re primary focus will be on improving SGA’s communication and reputation. They were grilled by students in the audience for not having anyone on their executive board who lives on campus.
Voting for 2018-19 SGA president and senators ends Friday at 5 p.m. SGA’s current constitution prohibits students from voting for any write-in candidates.
This story first appeared in the April 12, 2018 issue of The Vantage.