Elections for Senate receive poor turnout
April 30, 2009
This year the annual UW-River Falls Student Senate elections voter turnout increased from 345 to a whopping 401 this year. That total is a woefully anemic 6 percent of the total student population.
This statistic is scarily low. The Student Senate is an integral part of the democracy of this campus. They are in charge of budgets for all the student orgs and making decisions about a multitude of things that affect UWRF. In order for the student voice to be heard, students need to elect their officials. Democracy doesn’t really work when only 6 percent of the population votes in the politicians that make decisions for all 100 percent.
But the voter turnout, shocking as it is, is the product of an apathetic student body that was under-informed through a lack of formal advertising and information surrounding the election. Both the Student Senate and the Student Voice dropped the ball when it came to informing the general student body on what they needed to know.
In the weeks prior to the election, it is the Senate’s responsibility to educate and inform the campus on every aspect of the election process. Looking around campus, info on who was running, their platforms and where and how to vote was scarce. The only thing that was prevalent around campus was the annoying plethora of sidewalk chalk promoting the different candidates. But it is hard to take seriously someone running for President or Vice-President when the only place their name can be found is in pink and baby blue letters scrawled sloppily under the collective feet of the student body. In order to actually fall in line with other UW schools in terms of voter turnout, the Senate needs to take advertising the elections more seriously and get the information on the platforms and how to vote out for the students to know.
But the blame can’t be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Senate. The Student Voice, the institution most responsible for bringing campus news to the student body, had no coverage leading up to the election. It is the duty of this paper to seek out news and relay that information to the readers. In this specific instance, it was this paper’s job to go out and find information on the individual candidates and their platforms. It was also our job to relay the details of how and when to vote. The Student Voice should have run a story on the candidates and voting process but failed to do so. We should have, at the very least, put in a Voice Short but again failed to do so.
In the end, these elections were voted in by only 6 percent of students because the two organizations that should have informed students neglected to.