By: EMILY HAYNES – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton Student Government Association will hold fall elections from Wednesday, Sept. 10, until Wednesday, Sept. 17 for a variety of positions including class senators, academic representatives and head of commuter relations.
There are 16 senator positions, four per class, and three academic representatives, one each for engineering, humanities and social sciences.
“The goal of SGA is to represent the student body, to be the liaison between the students and the administration on campus,” election committee chair Morgan Draves said. “Any issues, whether it’s housing or curriculum, can be brought to the attention of the administration by the senators or representatives.”
However, reaching this goal can be difficult when there is low voter turnout at elections and lack of interest and involvement from the student body, Draves said.
The three academic representative positions were supposed to be filled last spring but were left vacant because no one signed up to run for them. Additionally, the voter turnout for the spring election was only six percent of the student population, Draves said.
“We really want to get back in touch with campus this year,” SGA president Sarah Dickson said. “SGA has become so concentrated on funding student organizations, which is a huge part of our mission, but we’ve lost touch with students on campus and our presence has been missing. We want to bring that back.”
Dickson, Draves and SGA vice president Elaine Laux said they have been working to reach this objective since their election in the spring of last year. The group said they have increased their presence on social media, including Twitter and Facebook, and is planning to have voting stations inside and outside of Kennedy Union during the week of elections.
Dickson and Draves said their most difficult demographic to reach is upperclassmen. Sophomore psychology major Peter Krull, who plans to run for a senator position this year, said he understands why his peers aren’t motivated to vote or be involved with SGA.
“Most people, like myself until I looked into [SGA], thought this student government was like the student government back in high school where they did not really have a huge impact on policies or allocation of money,” Krull said. “I don’t think most students understand the impact of our student government and so they are not compelled to vote.”
Dickson said she has noticed some students don’t even know what SGA is. She and Laux said they have made tentative plans to organize collaborations with other student organizations, such as Red Scare.
“I think by being more connected and more prominent, it will inspire people to get involved,” Dickson said. “[Our members] are all across the board – you don’t have to be a political science major to be in SGA. Every student’s voice does matter in the eyes of the administration, more so than people realize.”
“[Dickson and I] are usually the only students at the meeting with the administration, so we get to be the voice of the students,” Laux said. “We get to speak for 10,000 students, which is pretty cool.”