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Students show little zeal for Senate elections

March 23, 2012

Student Senate election petitions are now in and the campaigning has begun. However, UW-River Falls students show a disinterest in the upcoming elections.

Spring means a new Senate election and campaigning is starting to begin with sidewalk-chalk explaining about who is running and when to vote. It is up to the candidates running to let the students of UWRF know they are running and how to vote for them.

The original deadline for the petitions was March 9. The deadline was extended due to a lack of candidates said Ben Blanchard, Senate election commissioner.

“President Halverson and I felt that by extending the deadline by an additional week that we would be able to get a few more people to run,” said Blanchard in an email.

With extending the deadline, there were 10 more candidates added to the 14 other ones. Each of these candidates needed to have a petition signed by either 50 or 100 (if running for president or vice president) students in order to be considered.

“We both felt that a more competitive race would help our candidates feel more accomplished and focused should they win their elections,” said Blanchard.

However, after interviewing a few students about the elections, they had no idea there were even elections for Senate. Most knew that there is an organization called Senate, but the majority did not know who was running for Senate or if elections were taking place now.

A freshman and biology major, Thu Nguyen said, “I like to think that they [Student Senate] reach out to students but they are excluding the majority of students from knowing what is going on.”

On the Senate website, their mission statement says that they want to meet the needs of the students and represent them as a whole.

Senate represents the UWRF students and talks about issues that the students of the campus care about. When asked if they know what issues Senate talks about, students said no.

“I am not sure what they talk about and only know the information from what I read from the paper,” said Marshall Benzine, a sophomore and chemistry major.

A sophomore and psychology major, Alisha Dybedahl said, “I wish I was more informed so I can be aware of the issues they talk about.”

If students want to be informed with what Senate is talking about, they can go to the Senate website and look at the agenda and minutes or go to the weekly meetings or to a binder that is placed in the Involvement Center.

One sophomore and agriculture major, Garrison Kirker said that he would like to run for Senate in the future.

“I feel like I should make the campus better for future generations and students have their own rights,” said Kirker.

Only two of the 10 students interviewed knew about Senate. One student was a freshman and the other was a senior.

“I don’t believe there is a disinterest in Student Senate, rather, there are few people who want to put the time and energy into making the University the best it can be,” said Blanchard. “It can be stressful at times but I feel it is extremely rewarding.”