To the uninvolved, disinterested and disinvested: It’s time to vote in SGA elections
I volunteered to cover the Student Government Association in early 2015, and as much as I wish I could tell you I was thrilled to do so, I was just a staff writer with nothing better to do than sit down in the Helma B Constantine Forum and scribble down announcements.
I knew I wasn’t alone in these sentiments. No one at The Vermilion wanted the position, and no one outside of the publication (and not many inside our newsroom) knew what the organization did. That is because the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s SGA is one of the most underutilized campus resources.
The Student Government Association comprises names you’ve already heard of who either serve on the Senate as collegiate representatives and presidents, oversee senate proceedings as a member of the judicial branch or run the whole thing as a member of the Big Three (president, vice president, treasurer) or chief justice.
College representatives work on college projects such as the paved walking path in front of Wharton Hall. (That was the College of Nursing’s representatives’ doing.)
You are their electors, but the vast majority of you (if you were around in 2015) didn’t vote.
If you were around in 2014 and voted for or against Referendum 1, which allowed a $25 fee hike for new buses, congratulations. You’re one of less than 2,000 who voiced their opinions.
This year, the SGA Big Three’s ticket is opposed for the first time in a while — three years to be exact. Because there is slightly more attention on what it means to be a part of SGA, which you are, and pay student-assessed fees, which you do, you now have the most say in who proposes policy changes, fee increases and more for the next academic year.
Why waste it?
I’m being a little too harsh. UL Lafayette has a hefty amount of commuter students who sit down on the buses at Cajun Field, in their classes around campus, on the buses again and finally in their car seats as they drive away after their last classes at 12:15 p.m. or 3:45 p.m. Some go to work, and some just go home because there’s no point in staying around campus any longer, right?
That thought process was mine, too, until I got involved.
If you don’t know what SGA does on a weekly basis, go to its Monday meetings at 5 p.m. in the Helma B Constantine room in the Student Union. Sit and listen to what is announced, introduced and voted on. You’ll learn as much about the university and its upper echelons of student leadership as you will the about the people behind it.
If you don’t like how SGA has operated, then echo that sentiment on your ballot. If your friend or colleague of choice falls short of the plurality needed, talk to your SGA senators and Big Three.
More importantly, know who they are.
In the last few years, there’s been a push for millennials and Generations X, Y and Z to get out and vote. The success of these campaigns is arguable; even if millennials did turn out more to schools, libraries and post offices to press a certain button that aligns with their beliefs, the younger folks can’t match up to the scores of senior citizens who proudly parade their blue (or Blue Dog) “I Voted” stickers.
I don’t care how you voted last year for the president, your senator and representatives or those long, convoluted ordinances and taxes that you probably went cross-eyed trying to read. If you didn’t vote, shame on you, but here’s your shot at redemption.
You don’t need to go to your hometown elementary school to vote. Do it on OrgSync from the comfort of your own computer, your nearest STEP lab or your phone. Granted, the process is about as difficult as making sense of proposals on the 2016 ballot, so I’ll add instructions here.
Make the effort, and your university will too.
As an erstwhile SGA reporter, I look back on my time on the beat fondly. As a formerly disinterested commuter, sitting down in the meeting room as presidents Dane Adams and Kirsten Allen stomp on their soapboxes and give their spiels is synonymous with my nascence as a campus leader and reporter.
Get involved with your student leaders. You’ll be surprised what a walkway in Wharton does to your feet, your commute and your psyche.