News, Student Government

Student Government tries to pinpoint cause of low interest in running for candidacy

DSC_1724.jpg

Student Government president-elect Evan De Joya (left) and 2008's president Brandon Gross (right) mingle during the election announcement event Feb. 15 at the Lakeside Patio. Gross now works at the university as the associate director for the university center and student activities center. Photo credit: Matt Bernanke

For the second year in a row, the winning candidates in the University of Miami’s Student Government elections enjoyed an uncontested victory as interest in the candidacy continues to decline.

Junior Catherine De Freitas, newly-elected SG vice president, said the answer to low registration turnouts for SG positions lies in its engagement with the university’s student body.

“Less people are running because there is a lack of awareness of Student Government and what we do in SG,” said De Freitas, a marketing major.

In 2015, True to U and One Team, One U ran against each other as full tickets. Each ticket was packed with three candidates vying for the positions of president, vice president and treasurer. A partial ticket, Empower U, also competed against the two trios with candidates running only for president and vice president. That election drew 1,877 voting for president, 1,874 voting for vice president and 1,863 voting for treasurer, higher than this year’s voting rate, but down from the school record set in 2014 at 2,934 votes.

Since then, executive tickets have won virtually uncontested.

In 2016, the Unlimited ticket won after its only opponent, independent candidate Aaron King, dropped out of the race. He said he had contracted pneumonia and could not finish the race.

This year, all candidates from the We Got You ticket refrained from attending campaign events, essentially ending the ticket’s candidacy despite a technicality that kept all the candidates’ names on the ballot.

However, even before then, Elections Commission officials were having a hard time reaching and gauging students interested in vying for positions.

De Freitas said she also hypothesizes that a busy schedule may pose a barrier to student involvement in SG.

“A lot of people do not diversify themselves on campus, so once they find that one organization they like, they do not make an effort to get involved in other places,” she said.

DSC_1672 copy.jpg

Since 2016, all winning tickets running for executive positions have been virtually uncontested throughout the elections process. The newly elected "U First" ticket swept the election, similarly to the "Unlimited" ticket in 2017. Photo credit: Matt Bernanke

De Freitas said many juniors and seniors have approached her and said they want to get involved in SG but feel they may have missed their chance. She said these common sentiments suggest that accessibility to SG may be one of the many obstacles.

Freshman Lara Tomenchok said though she’s aware SG exists, it’s hard to know exactly how it works.

“I feel Student Government’s presence, but it’s hard to know where to go with my ideas,” said Tomenchok, an engineering major.

To bridge the gap, De Freitas plans to heavily promote SG to freshmen and sophomores, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get involved as soon as possible.

However, De Freitas also said she encourages everyone to participate in SG regardless of academic year. The vice president-elect hopes her ticket’s “approachable and transparent Student Government” model will inspire students to participate.

But the executive officers are not the only ones working hard to increase participation in SG.

Elections Commission Chairman Luis Goberna said the commission has worked hard during this year’s election season to expand voting and interest.

Goberna, a junior, said the commission revamped ad placements across various online platforms as well as locations throughout campus to remind students about the elections. Extended voting hours and a 24-hour online option have also made it easier than ever for students to make their voices heard.

However, these initiatives can’t combat the student body’s indifference on their own.

Goberna underscored the importance of a competitive executive election. He said on average, “voting tends to be linked to how many students are on the ballot.”

Nonetheless, Goberna said he remains hopeful for SG’s future. Sixteen people filed to run for senate in the spring compared to last year’s 11 students. Goberna said though the senate races also saw their share of plot twists, it was still a step in the right direction.

“The more students that know about Student Government and elections, the better,” Goberna said.

Correction, 1:32 p.m., Mar. 5, 2018: This article previously stated that the 2015 elections drew a record number of votes. It has been updated to reflect the fact that the school record of votes was cast in 2014 at 2,934 votes.

February 21, 2018

Reporters

Rebecca Goddard


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Their bats and gloves and baseball skills weren't enough Thursday night. Now, the Miami Hurrica ...

Florida State's recruiting trail hit Georgia last week, and while the #Tribe19 class is a focal ...

It's almost summer, time for college football players to wind down and chill out — every now an ...

More than a decade after former University of Miami football star Sean Taylor was murdered during a ...

Alumna and faculty member shares lessons and learning about racial identity in free parent community ...

Voters head to the polls in a historic election to choose the country’s next president. ...

From boathouse to marine research powerhouse, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Scienc ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

Stormy weather in the Gulf of Mexico may have delayed Friday's competition, but wind and rain c ...

Last season, Miami Hurricanes fans created, quite simply, one of the best home-field advantages in c ...

University of Miami senior Christian Langmo and freshman Adria Soriano were edged by Florida's ...

After rallying to force a split, Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miamis women's tennis team was u ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team will wrap up the memorable 2018 season as No. 42 in t ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.