The Student Senate at UW-River Falls has made numerous positive changes this year to campus. However, with the current election and recent Senate meetings it has come to our attention that Senate may not be heading down the path to obtain its goal of getting more students involved.
Primary elections for Senate closed on Wednesday, March 26, and the final election opens Tuesday April 1, at 8 a.m. and closes April 3 at 4 p.m. While there was an email that was sent out to students, the lack of campaigning on campus has not gone unnoticed. With two presidential candidates, little information has been given out to students about the candidates’ goals if they were elected as president. The presidential debate that was filmed by Focus On U allowed the candidates to opine on certain issues, but we feel that it was not advertised to campus effectively.
The primary election attracted about 200 students to vote, which is larger than previous years. However, there are approximately 6,000 students on campus and only having 200 students vote is not ideal in having an accurately represented election. More campaigning would shine a spotlight in the direction of Senate and attract a larger amount of participation. Being a student leader on campus has to do a lot with the people you and the connections you have made. The question that arises for us when looking at the number of people who participated in the primary election voting is: how many of these students are friends or have associated themselves with the candidates enough times to know them on more than an acquaintance level?
Senate meetings are also another way to get students engaged and while the meetings are generally informative, the efficiency aspect needs attention. Senate is concerned with the weather policy on campus and while the amount of people who enjoy walking outdoors in negative 60 degree temperatures is slim, the time that is spent discussing the policy in recent Senate meetings has drawn attention away from current issues such as the election. In two different meetings, Senate has spent a collective amount of two hours discussing just the weather policy alone when it really does not have much control over the decision on when school is cancelled. It is feared that students on campus will not get involved when meetings are too long and staying focused on tasks is not being shown as possible.
Shorter meetings, staying focused and increasing the campaigning for elections would be positive changes to get more students involved in Senate.