The annual Dons Elections received an unprecedented voter turnout, resulted in sweeping approval of undergraduate referenda and presented newly elected officers to ASUSF Senate and the Graduate Student Senate, including the election of Junior Shaya Kara as next year’s Senate Executive President.
“The undergraduate voter turnout reached another record high of 28.86 percent (1727 of 5985 voters) and the graduate turnout was more than double it has ever been with 16.17 percent (457 of 2827 voters),” explained Brittany Sanguma, the assistant director for campus engagement.
All students had one week to cast their votes online. The undergraduate referenda on the ballot included the ASUSF 2020 Vision, Magis Scholarship Fund and Night Safety Program Expansion, all of which were approved. The graduate ballot, which consisted of an item titled “Expansion of Graduate Student Opportunities,” was disapproved.
On the undergraduate student ballot, the ASUSF 2020 Vision passed with a 53 percent approval rate. The 2020 Vision calls for an $8.00 increase of the Student Activity Fee which will go into effect as of fall 2017, and will continue for the next three years. Prior to the elections, Senate hosted a Mission Forum on the 2020 Vision to increase awareness and education regarding the fee increase. The money from the fee increase will go towards sustaining and supporting student clubs, organizations, and campus events.
The Magis Scholarship Fund passed with a 78 percent approval rate. This referendum intends to reallocate $4.00 of tuition money into a scholarship fund that will support undocumented students who demonstrate financial need, but are not eligible to apply for financial aid. While the Magis Scholarship Fund has been approved by the undergraduate constituents, this does not guarantee that it will be implemented. The Board of Trustees and University administration will have the final decision on the scholarship fund’s implementation. However, its approval through Dons Elections will show the Board of Trustees that the undergraduate population supports the Magis Scholarship Fund.
In addition, the Night Safety Program Expansion passed with 91 percent of the vote. This expansion calls for purchasing one additional safety shuttle van and two replacement shuttle vans, all of which will be a part of the Night Safety Program. The next step is to purchase and retrofit the vans so that they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On the graduate student ballot, students disapproved the proposed $10.00 increase of the AGSUSF Student Activity Fee, which would also occur annually over the next three academic years. In addition to voting on referenda, students also elected ASUSF and Graduate Student Senate officials through the Dons Elections.
Current ASUSF Vice President of Mission Shaya Kara believes that this Dons Election is a great example of an increase in student awareness and involvement in the voting process.
“Voter engagement is key in any election, but ensuring the students understand the complexities of all of our referenda is often troublesome to many of the student leaders,” said Kara. “This election though was a historic moment because not only did we have an unprecedented voter turnout, but our students were critical with their votes.”
Kara will take the helm of the Senate Executive Board in the fall. “I have put my heart and soul into senate and serving the student body,” she said. “Seeing that my peers were able to recognize the work I was doing and affirm that they trusted my commitment to their interests was the most rewarding feeling. We have an amazing and incredibly passionate student population, and to have this opportunity to represent them is a feeling of excitement I can’t even begin to explain.”
A complete list of the newly elected ASUSF and AGSUSF officials can be found online at myusf.usfca.edu/sle/elections.