Monson wins Student Senate re-election
September 16, 2010
Student Senate presidential election winner, Lee Monson, beat his opponent, Nikki Shonoiki, by 34 votes in the re-election last spring.
The re-election was implemented after the winner of the first election, Tyler Latz, declined the position of Student Senate president as well as other issues surrounding the election.
The first election was unusual because of an unresolved ethics complaint that threatened to remove Shonoiki from the ballot for campaigning early. Associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, Gregg Heinselman, called for a re-election when a resolution to the complaint could not be reached.
Monson won the vote 168 to 134 according to poll results plus nine write-ins. A total of 311 students voted in the re-election, nearly half of the turnout of the regular election. Director of Student Life and Student Senate advisor, Paul Shepherd, offered two possible explanations for the decrease in turnout: one, the first election included the election of senators while the re-election was to elect the president only; two, the re-election took place during finals week when students were focused on academics rather than student government. Shonoiki said she was not disappointed when she found out she had lost the election. Already emotionally and physically drained from the previous months’ events, she was already moving on.
Shepherd said a challenge facing the Senate is getting people involved in the elections and current issues. One of the key responsibilities of the Student Senate, he said, is informing the student body and communicating with the individuals they are supposed to be representing. “Lee is extremely interested in establishing those [external relations],” he said.
Shepherd also said that he was also encouraged by the fact that there are a lot of new students currently in the Senate and there is room for more.
Monson said he chose to run because he felt other parties would be self-serving, and he wanted to initiate conversations with the student body so that their voices and issues would be heard.
“I’m not interested in pushing my own agenda,” he said. “My main goal is to try and be available to students. That’s what I’m here for.”
Two issues that Monson said would be a focus during his term are removing the sophomore on-campus housing requirement in order to open up more spaces within the residence halls, and finding an alternative to the proposed plan for the renovation of Cascade Avenue.
Despite the challenge of time management, balancing classes and the demands of the position, he said he wishes to be able to meet and talk with as many people as possible including students, administration and city council.
“I value academics and this position very [highly],” said Monson. “A strong priority [of mine] is outreach to the student body.”
A third-year pre-law political science major and philosophy minor, Monson’s previous government and leadership experience includes; College Democrats treasurer, Student Senate College of Arts and Sciences representative and director of the Women and Gender Initiatives sub-committee.
Shonoiki said she will not run for another position on Senate, but will devote her time to her involvement in other organizations such as Falcon Programs and the Diversity Organization Coalition.
She said the student body reacted perfectly to the situation that led to the re-election by asking questions about the issues and how they developed. The situation brought attention to how ineffectively the Student Senate was functioning and highlighted the amount of impact that the Student Senate has on the student body.
She said this year the Student Senate needs to get organized in order to be effective in impacting key student issues and advised that they develop professionalism, encourage participation in Senate from all groups of people and initiate awareness campaigns such as posting flyers announcing elections and promoting how to run for positions.
This coming year, Monson said he encourages students to reach out to him and the other representatives with issues or concerns as well as submit their own pieces of legislation. Elections for open Senate positions will be near the end of September. Actual dates are yet to be decided by the elections committee. Students interested in participating can contact Student Senate Elections Committee Chair Jayne Dalton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kaitlin on 20 Sep 2010: I think the lack of voters for the re-election was due to the poor timing of it. They chose to hold it during the week of finals and the student's focus is not going to be on Senate.