News, Opinion

SUUSA Elections: What Exactly Happened?

Riddle me this: can a person really be elected if they were the only choice?

When we hear the word “election” the assumption typically made is, there are two or more persons running for a position, usually a political office. This process involves a candidate getting their name out into the public voting community and campaigning for themselves or their party in trying to ensure a winning vote.

This hasn’t been the case with the 2018-19 Southern Utah University Student Association (SUUSA) officer elections.

Some may have noticed when casting their vote in the SUUSA election, there was only one candidate listed for every single position. Students could either select the name listed, the option NONE or write in a candidate.

This year’s results go as followed:

Executive Council (EC):

Student Body President
D’Mia Lamar – 859
None – 117

Vice President of Academics
Johnny Zilgett – 800
None – 142

Vice President of Clubs and Organization
Jon Baker – 855
None – 132

Vice President of Finance
Caleb Paulson – 723
John Taylor – 140
None – 141

Student Programming Board President
Gwen Elison – 845
None -127

Senators:

Graduate Student
India Mack – 25
None – 16

Upper Division
Sunny Sims – 859
None – 126

Lower Division
Porter Crofts -781
None – 192

College of Science and Engineering
Avery Malenius – 221
None – 46

College of Education and Human Development
Brooke Smith – 117
None – 11

College of Performing and Visual Arts
Ashlee Sizemore – 88
None – 8

School of Business
Hector Sanchez – 124
None – 23

College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Alexandra White – 224
None – 36

Alexandra White dropped her candidacy before the announcement of votes.

One explanation is the lack of knowledge of what SUUSA is. The most visible portion of SUUSA was separated into the student programming board (SPB) this year. Now events on campus are credited to SPB instead of SUUSA, as they had been in the past.

“Student government should be something that students are wanting to do,” Former Vice President of Activities (now titled SPB President) Kenten Pope, a graduate candidate of professional communication from Vernal, said. “When they come on campus they should be seeing these leaders … and wanting to make a difference on campus.”

But members of SUUSA have expressed the positivity of this year’s Senate and overall clarity in their executive council positions. SUUSA now live streams their senate meetings and has answered more My SUU Voices than ever before.

Another downfall this year’s elections face may come from a few other recruitment happenings on campus around the same time. ACES and TAVI Leaders have made their presence more known on campus this past year and could have potentially overshadowed the elections and student government.

The advertisements that did go up were from last year’s election and the candidates this year did not exactly campaign as much as previous candidates have. SUUSA announced the percentage of SUU votes this year was 11 percent, 13 percent lower than the voting percentage of 2015.

Notably, candidates have the ability to campaign with a budget of $500. With the exception of maybe two candidates, Elison and Paulson, this election cycle had a smaller amount of campaigning compared to previous years.

In previous election cycles, candidates have gone out-door knocking, set up tables in the quads and mall, held events and more.

So why wasn’t there much campaigning done by every candidate this year? A major theory is the lack of competition, obviously.  After all, how can you lose when you’re the only option?

“Why/how is there only one candidate for each position?” Former President of SUUSA, Brandon Day commented on the SUU News Facebook Page. “I don’t know of that ever happening before. Here’s the least stressful election they will ever run.”

Current Senator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Grace Schulz, a senior communication major from Oakley, said the reason for the tiny elections could have gone one of two ways.

“You could say people run because they feel their student government (or college) wrongs them in some way, and that wasn’t the case this year,” Schultz said. “You could also take the perspective of people don’t care about student government.”

Schulz said, either way, SUUSA did not seem to make enough negative waves to push students to want to make a difference.   

Story By
Carlee Jo Blumenthal and Samantha Burfiend
opinion@suunews.com and webchief@suunews.com

Photo By
Samantha Burfiend
webchief@suunews.com

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