Absence of candidates derails election

Student Senate elections were cancelled for the third time in four years because not enough candidates filed for the 36 available seats.

Each of the four classes are allotted nine Senators, but as the election drew near, none had approached that number. The sophomore class came closest, drawing eight applicants.

Senate President John Carr said timing may have played a role.

“The elections are real fast after school starts, especially for the freshman,” said Carr, a junior chemistry major. “They just get here and get situated and they don’t really know what the senate does yet.”

Carr was unaware elections were cancelled until Tuesday afternoon. He thinks the low amount of petitions was pretty usual.

“Historically, the senior class has had a lower turnout due to all of the things that they have going on, such as student teaching,” he said.

Carr said he was real pleased with the turnout of sophomores and juniors this year.

“Last year they didn’t turn out as well in numbers as we expected, but this year, the initial numbers look really good,” he said.

All candidates who submitted petitions for a Senate seat were automatically accepted into office.

“We sent out a campus wide e-mail about the elections and posted some flyers,” Carr said. “The elections are just too early.”

“They pushed Senate petitions more last year than they did this year,” said Danielle Dunn, junior communications major.

Although elections were cancelled this year, Carr anticipates a good year for the Senate.

“I expect a lot out of the Senate this year,” he said. “We hope to increase the group and build and keep the connections that we have on campus.”

Doug Carnahan, dean of students, said many students don’t fully understand everything the Senate does.

“The Senate allocates funds and sit on some Faculty committees and have votes,” he said. “The improvements to the Student Recreation Center have been an ongoing project. It stemmed from a Senate proposal five years ago.”

Dunn said the Senate’s reach is longer than many believe.

“If students are in a club, then the Senate does involve them,” Dunn said.

Although Carnahan doesn’t see the lack of participation in Senate as an issue in student government, some believe the underlying issue is the lack of general involvement in the school.

“There is a lack of participation on campus,” Dunn said. “If the students would care about government and where the money goes, then we would have elections. They don’t think that student elections involve them.”

“There are a lot of ways to fix it, but nothing has been done in the past,” said John Conrace, sophomore international studies major.

“If senators wouldn’t have to re-petition for their seats, then that may help build the Senate up,” Dunn said. “If you are already a committed senator, then why should you have to repetition?”

Conrace believes the answer may be in reducing numbers.

“I think that if we decreased the number of senators, then we would always have an election,” Conrace said.

Carnahan said a number of proposals will be given consideration.

“It was suggested that we extend the deadline for petitions,” Carnahan said. “There are several possibilities provided to help with elections.”

At its Sept. 27 meeting, the Senate will fill the vacancies by conducting open interviews with qualified students interested in joining. To be qualified, candidates must be a full-time student with a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average.

Students wishing to join the Senate can contact the Student Services office in Room 211 of Billingsly Student Center.