The phrase student government elections generally brings on images of students standing on stage, delivering speeches; attempting to convince their peers that they will make school all the more enjoyable. Campaign posters litter hallways as students line up to cast their ballots for their friends or perhaps even for the candidate who will do the job best. Student government elections are supposed to be competitive and a representation of democracy in its most basic form.
While the image of traditional student elections still rings true for most, this is not the case at Keene State College. Most students wouldn’t know it, but Student Government elections for the class of 2012 were held recently. There was no campaigning for the position through advertisements across campus or even far-reaching Facebook groups. There were no presentations of speeches or debates between candidates for positions. Even more distressing was the fact that not a single position up for election had an opponent running. Seven positions were run uncontested, and out of a possible five class representatives, only three people officially ran for the positions. Not a single election for student government positions was contested; everyone who won their positions did so because they were the only name on the ballot.
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Voting was only available online on April 18 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The online voting consisted of a list of the positions, a description of those running, and one box to utilize for write-ins. According to the official results, only 184 out of approximately 1,200 members of the class of 2012 voted in the student government elections. The student body President, Vice President and University System Trustee were elected with only approximately 15.3 percent of eligible students voting.
Not once on campus did students get a sense that a student government election was on the horizon. There were no advertisements around campus urging students to get involved in student government or run for a position. There were no signs posted reminding students when and where they could vote for their government. There was just a single 12-hour window where students could cast their ballot on their MyKSC account. If you didn’t have the time to vote, didn’t check your email, or put it aside to do later, you weren’t able to vote.
How can the class of 2012’s student government be elected without one single competitive election and only 184 votes? The time has come to get students engaged in student government. Candidates running for these positions need to start reaching out to the student body and earning the positions they were inexplicably elected to. The student body should not be standing for elections that are uncompetitive and have minimal voting participation. Student government should not allow elections to stand with only about 15.3 percent of the student body voting for the candidates. Change needs to occur on all levels, from students up through student government itself. Those elected may be celebrating their victories, but for the rest of us it can hardly be called anything but a failure.