If students at Western have a problem with the Student Government Association next semester, they can blame poor campaigning procedures and unreasonably short campaign time.
Through a lack of taking full advantage of campaigning through social media sites as well as web-based voting problems, the election for SGA president and vice president came to an end with only .072 percent of Western’s student body turning in a vote.
Aside from the low voter turnout, the candidates were only allotted a two-week time frame to campaign and could only disperse posters and banners for the final week leading up to the election.
With an election that is as important to students’ interests and future representation as this was, candidates need to be given a more reasonable amount of time to campaign and let students know what they are about before the voting process.
However, the blame for the low turn-out is not entirely on the campaigning structure.
There was a very limited utilization of social media by the candidates during the process to reach out to Western and that contributed to the low number of student voters as well.
In the future, candidates need to use their available resources to the fullest potential because that is what the rest of the student body deserves.
According to the bylaws for campaigning, although the distribution of posters and materials and campaigning is allocated to a ridiculously small amount of time, candidates can get endorsements from organizations as far as four weeks prior to the election. Working to get endorsements from organizations that reflect the candidate’s agenda is one way that they could efficiently utilize their resources as well as show the students what they are about further out from the election and boost voter numbers.
On top of these two issues, there was also a failure on the website used to vote that caused some issues.
For several minutes, last year’s president and vice-presidential candidates were posted in place of the two current candidates and following that, there were several moments with no candidates on the voting webpage at all.
Neither Northwest State University or Missouri Southern State University’s department of Student Affairs could be reached for a comment on SGA election procedures; however, Northwest has a similar time frame for campaigning. They give candidates two and a half weeks, but one of those weeks falls on spring break.
Campaigning time isn’t the only area in which we lag behind other state universities. In their last SGA election, Missouri State had a voting turnout of nearly 14 percent compared to our less than one percent turnout.
In the future, the whole campaigning and voting process needs to be buttoned up and made much more accessible for the students. It should run smoothly and students should be given a more reasonable amount of time to learn what the candidates that are going to represent them are all about; and we as students need to make more of an effort to vote because 443 out of 6099 students deciding our leadership just isn’t going to cut it.