By ROBERT TYSZKA
At any college, it is essential that students have a say and influence on what happens on their campus.
Recently, the Student Government Association (SGA) student elections were held, and the participation was very low. Only 22.25 percent of the student population voted in the 2013 election, according to SGA president Jeremy Thompson.
The problem is not that the students are not interested. It is just that they are not informed well enough.
It is natural for students to want to feel like they are involved in the decisions that go on at University of Mary Washington. The problem is not disinterest but rather a lack of publication. There is so much more that the student senate could be doing to publicize the SGA elections.
One thing that they could really take advantage of is incentives. When one goes to vote in a national election, they are given a sticker or something small to show they voted and as a symbol of pride. This practice could be implemented at UMW. Even something as simple as a coupon to a coffee shop or restaurant in town. The students need to be excited about the elections. If the SGA advertise incentives and makes it feel fun, it will draw in voters.
Word about the recent SGA elections was not spread as well as it could have been. The senate is the only organization that actually meets with President Rick Hurley to talk over issues. There are emails from the SGA sent to all students informing them of the upcoming elections and then another email for students to vote.
One should know that the SGA really is important to the university. If students really have any strong opinions on anything, it is the SGA that they want to talk to. The SGA is the voice of the students.
I think the SGA’s publication of what they do is definitely something that has room for change. They can always interact with and inform the student body in better ways. Why not try to spread the word and better involve the students on what happens at SGA meetings. Maybe it is possible for SGA meeting minutes, or a short summary of the major issues they work on in each meeting, to be emailed to the students in effort to better inform them.
I think students can also get more excited when SGA elections come around. If those running can get the students excited about changes they hope to make to the university, it will make students more excited about their college experience and what is to come in future semesters. Students like to know where their school is heading for the short term and long term.
Students need to realize that the student senate is the only student organization that is officially allowed to represent students. If the students at UMW can get informed and excited about voting and understand that they have an influence, then it is very likely that the 2014 SGA elections will have a much better turnout.