By Lisa Dussault
Every year the Student Senate holds elections to decide who will be the upcoming student leaders for the next academic year. Just recently elections were held to decide who would be on the counsel concerning all the residence halls, commuters and for the Poly Tech apartments. This year there were 32 open positions that needed to be taken but only 26 were filled, most of which were not even contested. This lack of student representation is not unusual; it seems that the Senate has this problem almost every year. Conor Geary, the Student Senate president, said that this could happen for several reasons. For one, students might be unable to fit such a position into their schedule because of off-campus jobs, or because of academic reasons. Also, there just might not be enough promotion around campus; it is usually a challenge to get people to pay attention sometimes.
Since elections each year are very important to the success of all different organizations on campus, The Elections and Polling Committee typically organize how elections are done and decide when and how polls should be taken. There are two people who are in charge of this; the Communications Director, Steve Hannigan, and the Senior Class President, Kelly Burke. These two people take care of all the stuff behind the scenes when elections are going on. Voting this year took place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and the votes were all tallied up the following Monday. In order to help students decide who will be picked, there generally is a speech night that takes place the Monday before elections begin. Not all candidates are required to give a speech, the only ones that must are the people running for Senate President. This year, about 16 of the candidates gave speeches and 65 people showed up to hear them; it was a great turn out. Overall, there were over 650 votes taken into consideration with Hennepin having 193 of them. This might be because Hennepin’s presidential position was the most contested because there were four people running for president.
According to Conor, there are a lot of new changes that were made this year. For one, Senate decided to go green for this election and have all voting take place online. To encourage voting, since it would not be as convenient as paper voting, there were computers set up in the Student Union and Serra Hall so students would have the opportunity to vote. There was even a new position that was created specifically for the task of going green in the senate and on campus, called the Director of Sustainability. The Senate also voted in a new constitution and created some new committees. For example, they turned the Student Finance Committee into the Budget Allocation Committee, which is where groups go for their funding. The House of Clubs was also introduced, lead by Steve Archer, where clubs can formalize and meet up with each other to share ideas and thoughts. Something else that was changed was the write-in campaign. This is when you can win an election by having your name written into a spot. However, in the past this type of election style has been made into a joke since once Mickey Mouse won. Now things are changed, you have to get at least 10 write-ins for it to be valid. If you get less than 10, but are still the winner, then you have to get 50 signatures on a petition in order to actually win.
Since this election was for hall councils, Senate position elections will be taking place in December so that the winners can take office in the spring semester. So, if you are interested in becoming part of the Student Senate, start getting ready for December. Conor said that we as students “need to take this seriously because these positions are the voices on campus.” If you want to make a difference, this is definitely one of the best places to start!