Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Low Voter Turnout, but High Energy Electees

Seattle University’s government is far from shutdown. In fact, they’re rearing to go.

The results of the SGSU elections are out and the freshly-elected candidates are ready to mingle with the Seattle U community.  

But while the electees are excited for their roles in SGSU, voter turnout polls over the years consistently indicate that most Seattle U students don’t vote at all.  

According to Missy Davis, elections commissioner, the percentage of voters has always been lacking.  Every year, SGSU aims for an increase in turnout, but even at a new high point last spring there are still only 33 percent of students voted.  
The reason for the swell last season was that three of the candidates were very high profile around campus, said SGSU. The candidates were already involved in other activities that made students want to submit a vote for the person they knew.  

SGSU utilizes Facebook and other media, fliers and the candidates themselves to get their peers interested in voting.  

This fall election, the voter turnout leveled off at just 19 percent of the student body.  That’s a 1.5 percent increase from last fall, but 14 percent less than last spring and still not representative of even a quarter of all students at Seattle U.

Last week, a candidate meet and greet took place, but only a handful of constituents actually showed up.  The candidates and those already on SGSU made up about half of the room by themselves.  

The meet and greet is publicized as a public event wherein the student body can hear their potential representatives’ campaign speeches and ask them questions, but the actual voter turnout remains low.

Those who decided to vote already had some idea of what they wanted in their representatives. When speaking about their ideal Freshman Rep, constituents Myra Jackson and Mai-Khue Nguyen emphasized potential networking as something they were excited for.  

“We’re really pressured to make connections. An early start is a good thing,” said Nguyen.  

They stressed the importance of not solely establishing connections with the rest of the student body, but with the city of Seattle. As freshmen, they felt it was something their representative should help them to accomplish.

During the campaign process, candidates outlined different priorities regarding their desired position, highlighting their main prerogatives. Focuses for this year included gender neutral facilities across campus.  Both Freshman Representative Owen Goetze and At-Large Representative Haley Bayuga-Graff named gender-neutral housing and restrooms as a top priority.  

Legal and cultural accommodation for transfer students was also a popular aim, drawing candidates for International Rep and Transfer Rep to speak out on the cause’s behalf. The sentiment for student body networking and student voice representation was echoed by nearly all candidates in their speeches.
“We aren’t going to be able to help everyone unless we hear everyone,” said freshman representative runner-up, Erik Kiffe.  

The gravity and responsibility of representing the student voice was further acknowledged by a candidate running for International Representative. He explained that to represent students from all different countries is basically to represent the world; and it’s a privilege to have that opportunity.  

Commuter Representative Tanary Gomez wants to focus on making her connections between the commuter students and those who live on campus, hoping to facilitate a more united student body.  

“Building that connection will be the most difficult, but that’s why I wanted to do this,” said Gomez.

While voter turnout is low, the candidates encourage other ways of letting them know what they want in their representation. Surveys, social media and just plain conversation are methods through which the representatives anticipate hearing from their constituents.  

Freshman Representative Owen Goetze is planning to provide more office hours than are required, to accommodate the varying schedules of his constituents. The newly elected very much want to hear from the student body they are representing.   

“Usually the voices you hear are the loudest ones,” said Bayuga-Graff.  “I want to give those who don’t normally speak up the space and the time to do so.”

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