The 2018 elections for the Undergraduate Student Government revealed that there is room for improvement in future election operations. The Office of Student Life opened this year’s election application on March 1 and closed on March 16. The mandatory orientation was held on March 22, leaving a month for campaigning until elections on April 24 to April 26.
Before March, Student Life did little to advertise applications for upcoming elections. The applications were announced in the middle of the spring semester with a rolling board on the second-floor lobby. Merely two references to elections in weekly emails were sent to the student population.
If Student Life were to give advanced notice of the upcoming deadline in the fall semester or winter session, perhaps there would be a greater number of candidates prepared to run.
This year’s Project Now party had little opposition. Only four candidates ran independently of the mainstream party, undermining their individual abilities to campaign effectively.
It may be of benefit to push elections later in the semester to encourage candidates to use ample time to campaign, considering that spring recess disrupts the process — especially this year.
Advertising changes may diversify the types of candidates available. As it stands, those most aware of the elections application and form a party are already involved in or close to USG.
Teams strategically include running mates from different clubs who can pull in votes, basing the election of a party more on friendship rather than informed decisions on policy. This pattern may explain why Project Now candidates were in no rush to publish their platform and were missing several members at the USG Debate on April 19.
Student Life and USG candidates should proactively take steps to equip the student body with the options and knowledge they need to elect USG members to represent their interests.