NEWS

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October 9, 2009

Lack of interest leaves SG seats vacant

College Council (CC) is casting a wide net for student representatives this week, seeking to fill an unprecedented number of vacancies in Student Government’s (SG) legislative body.

One third-year and three fourth-year representative positions will be filled in a special election next Friday, but so far only two candidates have volunteered, both for the third-year position.

“I’m surprised at how little interest there is on campus,” third-year representative Jason Cigan said. “We’re trying to convince people who randomly show up at SG meetings. It’s bizarre.”

Vacancies are usually filled by last year’s runners-up, but since the bare minimum of students ran last year for upperclassmen positions, there are no extra candidates to draw from.

Empty slots are mounting: Fourth-year Prerna Nadathur resigned Monday to dedicate more time to a social justice RSO, and third-year Mark Redmond stepped down, saying he had gained all he could from SG.

“It wasn’t worth doing again—what you could accomplish was limited,” Redmond said. “It gave me a great perspective of who makes decisions around the University, but I learned that even if they ask you for your opinion, it might not actually be factored into the final decision.”

Two more vacancies were created last spring when SG President Jarrod Wolf and VP for Student Affairs Chris Williams ran for CC last year, but were forced to give up those spots when they won executive positions.

Jay Kim, the only remaining fourth-year representative, said CC rarely sees this much turnover, though some members do get put off by SG’s bureaucracy, and decline to serve again.

“They get fed up that they can’t make any headway and they’ll drop out,” she said. “But maybe it’s a good thing. We only want people that will be relentless.”

CC planned on letting fourth-year candidates run in the fall elections normally reserved for first-years, but no one submitted a petition. The low turnout for last year’s election, combined with a lack of interest so far in replacements, has left CC members concerned about fielding motivated students.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Kim. “I’m worried about the lack of drive, of fervor. Fourth-years are moving on and it’s hard for them to think about long-term issues,” like transportation or safety.

Reynolds Club Director and SG adviser Sharlene Holly said part of this year’s problem was a lack of advertisement about the openings. “You wouldn’t know if you weren’t already tapped into SG,” she said. “It’s not an ideal situation.”

Cigan said he tried to avoid only asking his SG-affiliated friends to run, but was frustrated over the lack of interest among the student body.

“We had no one to pick from and we don’t have any other choice,” he said. “It could be called cronyism, but hopefully some people will decide to run in the next few days to balance it out."