Senate Elections Important for Students

wo weeks after the Associated Students of USF Senate elections, members of the Electoral Governing Board (EGB) are still trying to figure out how to bring forth more interest from the USF student population. As noted in last weeks issue of the Foghorn, only 5% of students voted, which is down around 8% from last year. 

These numbers are dismal. As the Vice-chair of Candidate Recruitment for the EGB, I am stunned, especially because I witnessed first hand the blood, sweat and tears of my fellow EGB members, Senate Executive Board members and volunteers that went into these elections. However, given the rather apathetic attitude of many of my peers, it didn’t catch me entirely off guard.    

Our main concern when evaluating the election is figuring out why the general student body is so lethargic when it comes to having a say in their school atmosphere.     

At least half of the student body lives on-campus, which means that any decisions made here reflect their education, housing, and food. 

That is the majority of their lives! You would think this would evoke enough energy to stop and vote, but unfortunately not. Since this is the case, we are in search of other means of inspiration. In in the meantime the best way to encourage people to vote is to educate them on the issues and people they are voting for. 

The Senate is the only organization on campus that is run by the students and that can pass or fail propositions put forward by students. As a private institution, students at USF have a lot less say in what goes on on-campus everyday as opposed to public schools. Private schools have license to essentially do whatever they want, including censoring public forums such as the Foghorn and USFtv or  increasing tuition. Granted, just because the administration can do something does not mean they will. Through the Senate, students of USF can express their concerns about on-campus issues, and the Senate will then bring those to the attention of the administration. 

The Senate is made up of students just like us except they hold the ears of people in charge, and they are willing to do almost anything to help.  By participating in the ASUSF elections, students can learn about and pick the candidates they want to represent them and catalyze change.
Two weeks ago an article written by columnist Tom Defazio spoke about making homosexuality on campus “A Little More Public, A Little Less Urinal”. He said “We as a student body have the potential to embrace a more progressive view of campus that includes more open, non-fully-heterosexual folk as part of the make up of this university…” It seemed like he was disappointed in the lack of pro-activeness of our schools population.

This coincides interestingly enough with one of the amendments to the Senate’s constitution that passed in this fall’s elections. The student body voted to add two new seats to the Senate in order to represent USF’s diverse student body. These seats are for members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual and Questioning population and/ or people willing to act as their voice.     
It is important to Senate to have an accurate representation of the schools population, which is why seats such as students of color, students with disabilities and the new LGBTQ all have seats. 
Defazio referred to incidences of ‘cruising’ as possibly implying that … “our university is not yet equipped for freedom of sexual exploration” but that more open displays of same sex relations may make it easier for people to accept. 

Perhaps he does not realize that some members of the population are putting forth immense effort in order to make these changes. The drafting and passing of the amendment to add LGBTQ representatives to Senate is the result of work put forth by dozens of people, and this is work that seems to go unrecognized by most.  
A large problem with the apathy of the students of USF is that they complain to no end about how they wish there was more parking on campus, or that hours were more convenient for getting food at the cafeteria, but don’t do anything to change it. Whether this is because they don’t know how or because they think their opinions don’t matter, I don’t know, but it has to stop. It’s time for people to realize that they can bring about change and that it is as easy as two minutes spent on a computer voting for a representative, or even one meeting a week with Senate to discuss school issues and try to come up with a solution that can be brought to the Dean. 

Students can read the poster’s around campus, actually look at USFConnect emails before deleting them, or even stop by the Senate or EGB offices in UC 100 to talk to us. 

Even if you are rushing between classes, work, and the gym, there is always time to get online, check your email and vote, or even better, to run for Senate. Those two minutes that you missed on Facebook won’t change anything, but your vote can. 
Hannah DeKay is an undeclared sophomore.

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