By: ALLISSA CORAK
Students, the time has come to elect your next president. The student government president, that is.
On Tuesday, April 19, the 2017 Student Government Association (SGA) election ballot will drop, waiting for your vote.
“It’s an online poll that students access through the Titan Atlas,” said current president of the SGA Stephen Salisbury.
“So we have four executive positions and 12 senate spots,” added Salisbury. This year, the most contested race is for SGA President.
In the running are Leah Klopfenstien, Desmond Atem, Shail Bhaght and Adam El-Ammori.
The other 12 senate seats are going uncontested this year.
So what is the big deal about student government? Why is it so important to IU South Bend?
Salisbury explained, SGA members have many more responsibilities than people realize.
“The SGA is basically responsible for allocating the mandatory student activity fees that everybody pays. So you’re looking at a budget of about $600,000 to $700,000,” he said.
This money is used for activities and clubs that students participate in every day.
“[It] gets allocated to 11 or 12 different departments across campus. That includes primarily the men’s and women’s basketball teams,” said Salisbury.
Yes, SGA members hold great responsibility, but they get paid to do so. That is where five percent of the overall budget goes. Salisbury explained that 10 percent of the budget is set aside for SGA operations and half of that goes directly to chair members in the form of stipends.
“We also provide stipends to SGA members at various levels depending on their responsibilities as an incentive for people to get involved and to create some accountability,” he said.
The massive responsibility will be left in the hands of whoever the student body votes for. However, the SGA needs a certain percentage of votes to make the election valid.
Salisbury said while that percentage is low, at approximately two percent, the number of students who participate in the election is a bit higher.
“I think last year we got somewhere around 800 or 900 votes,” he said. “If there are contested races, we get a higher amount of people voting. But I would say that in the 10 to 15 percent range is pretty much how many people actually vote.”
Compared to the minimum percentage stated in the SGA’s constitution, 15 percent looks pretty successful, but they want more.
“Knowing that the SGA has that kind of responsibility should, maybe, motivate more students to pay attention,” added Salisbury.
The candidates were given the green light to campaign after spring break. During the next few weeks, they might be hanging flyers, speaking to classes, and sending emails, all in the hopes to grab your vote.
“You may not see it until we get really close to the election,” Salisbury said.
The voting process will begin on Tuesday and end Wednesday evening, giving students a two-day window to cast their votes.
“Basically if you have an IUSB ID and are a student, you can vote,” said Salisbury.
If you are interested in getting to know the faces of the SGA and hear their ideas, be sure to attend their debate on April 13 in Weikamp Hall.