AS elections encourage low student participation

Elisabeth Smith | Asst. News

Associated Students (AS) held elections for new senators on Sept. 21 to fill residential life, commuter, and academic vacancies. Students could vote through their MySanDiego portals or at voting booth that was located on Maher Lawn.

Students ran for 19 open positions within the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, the School of Business Administration, most of the residential life areas, and the commuter students.

According to Associated Students, only a total of 641 students voted in this election, which is approximately 11.6 percent of the total undergraduate students. Between the three schools voting in this election, the College of Arts and Sciences lead with 365 votes, followed by the School of Business Administration with 175 votes, and the School of Engineering with 101 votes.

Freshman Pearl Lai was elected as one of the new commuter senators.

“I ran for Senate because I wanted to be more involved at USD, and to be part of an integral part of the school,” Lai said.

Lai found that while campaigning for her election many freshmen were interested in AS, but did not know much about the organization.

“I believe that social media is a key aspect in reaching out to students,” Lai said. “I plan on meeting more students and asking them how they want to be more involved and what they want to change to feel more involved.”

The new residential senator for Maher hall, freshman Robert Warren, found that the majority of the students in Maher were unaware that they could elect a representative.

“The campaign process for me was not as difficult as it was in other residence halls,” Warren said. “Here in Maher, I was the only candidate actively campaigning throughout the election process. The other two candidates did not campaign at all on a level that would be effective. I was also told that one of the opposing candidates actually tried to campaign, with little success, the day of the election.”

Warren noted that a lot of students, especially freshmen, were not aware of the elections.

“Sure, they knew about AS and its senatorial council, but they did not think that there would be an election, and those who did also did not expect it to be so soon after the start of the school year,” Warren said. “Overall the reception of my campaign was positive, however, the students of Maher were just as excited as I was for this opportunity.”

Freshman Christian Nelson was elected to represent the College of Arts and Sciences. Nelson ran for his position so he could be a voice for his peers.

“The campaign process was fun; I got to meet a lot of my classmates I hadn’t had the opportunity to interact with yet,” Nelson said. “I found that people were fairly interested in AS, I think USD students care about having their voice heard.”

While students care about having their voices heard, that is not reflected in the election numbers.

Despite learning about the elections in advance, sophomore Becca Simpson simply forgot to vote.

“I think [the senators running] did their best to get their campaigns out there,” Simpson said. “There’s not much else they can do to advertise short of putting up a billboard on campus.”

Sophomore Brady Vanderbrooke was not so aware of the elections. He found there was not effective enough advertising.

“No, I didn’t know [the elections] were happening,” Vanderbrooke said. “I probably wouldn’t have voted if I knew when the elections were. I didn’t know anyone who was running. And I don’t really know what AS does.”

Regardless of the lack of awareness in the community, senators are still hopeful for the semester.

“I want to challenge people to build relationships with those around them, and to not be afraid to reach out and help build that strong community,” Warren said. “As a whole, a community can accomplish much more than a single voice.”

This next semester will bring change as the new AS senators settle into their positions and hopefully open the channels of communication between the student body and the governing body.

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