Spring ASUSF Senate Elections came back in full swing this week as students voted for Senate candidates. Students voted online from April 11 to April 14. The Electoral Governing Board (EBG) also provided voting booths outside Market café and Lone Mountain to increase voter turnout. EGB is the student-run organization that overlooks Senate elections.
Twenty students ran for positions in Senate. Only one position, Vice President of Public Relations, had two contenders—freshman Shashi Aryal and junior Nargis Shaghasi.
The remaining positions’ candidates ran unopposed, including the rest of the ASUSF Executive Board positions.
At the ASUSF Senate Meet the Candidates event in Parina Lounge last week, presidential candidate Lexington Wochner referenced the importance of Senate’s service to students during his speech.
Wochner described when the university administration wanted to move graduation ceremonies from Saint Ignatius Church to Memorial Gym last semester to acquire a larger seating capacity. In response, Senate sent out a student survey in which the majority of 700 students voiced they wanted to keep graduation ceremonies in the church. The administration ceased to change the location.
“This point illustrates just how important Senate can be in the lives of the individual student. You as the students empower us as the Senate to be your representatives to the administration. And that’s my goal moving forward next year,” he said.
This year Senate placed a referendum on the ballot for students to vote on a $20 student activity fee increase. The fee would jump from $82 a semester to $102 if passed.
In a letter to ASUSF funded account officers (see letter on page 3), ASUSF President Halimah Najieb-Locke wrote that Senate recognized a deficit in the available budget for funded account organizations that provide student services. Usually budget proposals submitted to the ASUSF Senate Finance Committee surpass the available funds by $100,000; for the incoming year, the proposed budgets exceeded resources by $200,000.
The activity fee funds total about $500,000. About $50,000 is reserved for student events hosted by clubs and organizations and about $20,000 for club funding. The remaining funds are distributed among funded accounts like the Graphics Center, Foghorn, USFtv, ASUSF Senate, Greek Council, Electoral Governing Board, Go Team, College Players, and Campus Activities Board.
“This has forced the Finance Committee to cut back on much needed supplies, equipment, performances, events, and initiatives of funded account organizations. As a University that struggles with school spirit and engagement, this has been detrimental to our cause…the Finance Committee will have to make some extraordinary cuts this year in order to keep Funded Accounts afloat in the next academic year,” wrote Najieb-Locke.
As an incentive to vote, EGB entered participating students in a raffle for Giants baseball tickets, Lil’ Wayne concert tickets, and Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj concert tickets among other prizes.
Sophomore Brittany Dorn voted early in the week because “there are no negatives to voting,” she said.
As a baseball fan, the incentives motivated her to vote because “the voting wasn’t very competitive. There was only one spot that I could actually choose who got into. It was more like accepting people and so I knew they were going to win anyways.”
Dorn rejected the student activity fee referendum. “I’m just trying to save as much money as I can, it’s already very expensive to go here and to pay for housing in San Francisco.” She did agree that the increase was for a good cause. “Our school does provide so many events and they all have nice catering and good amenities, so it makes sense that they need more money.”
ASUSF election results will be announced Thursday, April 14 at 5p.m. in UC 402/403, the day that election polls close.
Foghorn went into print before winning candidates were announced.
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