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Final Senate meeting run by new leaders

May 8, 2008

Cindy Bendix was deep in slumber when she was elected president of the Student Senate for the 2008-2009 school year. Bendix was studying abroad in Italy as part of the International Traveling Classroom while trying to run a campaign back home.

“I was incredibly excited. I didn’t have any idea that I won. I had no idea until I opened Facebook, and I was like ‘Wow,’” said Bendix.

Bendix is a TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) major with a Spanish minor. She was the shared governance director.

“I really felt there was more I can do. And with Derek [Brandt] stepping down, I thought I would give it a try and see if I could move up and do what I could for the campus,” Bendix said.

She credits her election to e-mail, Facebook and friends back home.

Vice President selectee Casie Kelley found out she was victorious using her new Blackberry.

“Right away when [former president] Derek [Brandt] sent the e-mail, my phone vibrated and I checked it out. My boyfriend was actually with me and he insisted on checking it before I read it. So he read it and jumped up and down. He’s like ‘You did it! And you got the most votes on the ballot,’” said Kelley.
Kelley is an elementary education major with psychology. Last year she was the representative for the College of Education and wanted to be more involved in the Senate next year.

However, one of the major issues Bendix and Kelley need to address is the disappointing voter turnout of this year’s election. Around 400 people participated in this year’s elections. Out of a population of roughly 6,000, that is only 7%. To compare, the U.S. has a relatively low voter turnout, but it still has a turnout of around 61%, according to the United States Election Project.

Bendix and Kelley plan to combat the low turnout through the power of information. First on the agenda is to inform the student body of what Senate does. The Student Senate makes decisions about the disbursement of segregated fees, the dining service, the increases in tuition and renovations to infrastructure such as Ramer Field and the former Hagestad Student Center.

“I want to adamantly get students’ input,” Kelley said. “I feel like students don’t know we exist, and they don’t know what we are here for, and they need to know that we’re there for them. We’re here to lobby for them to the Chancellor, to the school to get what they want and to best represent them to the best of our ability. I think we just need to work on getting out to the students more and meeting as many as we can face to face, letting them know that we’re here, why we’re here.”