By: ALICIA FLORES
The Student Government Association (SGA) elections are right around the corner. So it may be time for you to get involved.
This year, there are two candidates running for SGA president. Stephen Salisbury and Shail Bhagat are both in the running for the president’s seat. Eighteen students are running to earn one of the 12 senator spots available while two students run for treasurer.
The amount of students that vote each year varies depending on if the race is contested or not. With more than one student running for president and 18 competing for the 12 spots available for senator, the SGA is expecting more students to vote in the upcoming elections. Typically, less than 5 percent of the student body vote in the election and the SGA is looking to surpass that.
Voting will be done online via TitanAtlas, with only a student username and password required for login. Voting opens at midnight on April 19 and voters have 48 hours to vote before it closes at 11:59 p.m. on April 20. Students will also be able to vote in-person from 1 to 4 p.m. both days in Fireside at the Grill.
“When races are not contested we tend to have a lower voter turnout and only get, like, a couple hundred students to vote, but when there are contested positions it tends to go up much higher, and will get anywhere from 1,100 to 1,500 votes,” said Scott Strittmatter, director of student life. “We are hoping for a good turnout this year since we do have contested positions.”
In an effort to increase voter turnout, the SGA is raising awareness around campus.
“They have hosted a debate and will be tabling in the next week. Candidates themselves are motivated to get people to vote. They have also teamed up with The Preface to sponsor an elections issue, and asked the [American Democracy Project] to create a candidates guide,” said Strittmatter.
Meet-and-greets have also been planned throughout the candidates’ campaigns, allowing students a chance to talk and ask questions.
“There has also been a push to have our candidates work together rather than have themselves campaign completely separate in an effort to get word out and promote the SGA’s nature of inclusion and cooperation,’’ said junior Craig Johnson, chief justice.
Many students have a full plate and may not have time for student life, but one of the SGA’s main focuses is to promote student involvement and show students that they have a voice to be heard, said Johnson.
“This is their representation. This is their voice. This is their advocate,” said Strittmatter. “The IU system itself feels it is important to have student representation. When the university is looking for students to sit-in on committees, they ask the SGA to find members to sit-in on as advocates for students, so it is really important to get students who are going to be advocates for students.”
Each student pays a student activity fee that is included in their tuition. This fee goes toward the student funds the SGA oversees. The SGA decides where the funds go throughout the semester.
“If you want to have a say in deciding where your own money goes then you should vote,” said senior Emily Tavares, current associate justice. “We make decisions for the whole campusl So, if you want a say in what goes on, you should vote.”
By voting, “students are choosing the people who will represent them in all of the school’s boards and committees which make decisions which affect the entire student body,” said Johnson.
There are other ways students can get involved besides voting.
“We are really encouraging people to vote and get involved, you do not have to be elected to a position to serve in SGA,” said Strittmatter. “SGA can appoint other members into other SGA committees if that is something they are interested in. They are not just here for complaints; they are also a great advocate for what students want to see on campus.”
Be sure to cast your vote at https://titanatlas.iusb.edu/election/start/98946