SGA elections aim for higher visibility

SGA VOTER TURNOUT 2010: In 2010, 1,479 students voted in the Monroe Park SGA’s elections, which are separate from MCV SGA elections. SGA on the Monroe Park campus is hoping to increase last year's number by advertising through Facebook, flyers and providing voting stations in the Commons from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3. Illustration by Hunter Nye.

Samra Khawaja
Contributing Writer

Mechelle Hankerson
News Editor

SGA VOTER TURNOUT 2010: In 2010, 1,479 students voted in the Monroe Park SGA’s elections, which are separate from MCV SGA elections. SGA on the Monroe Park campus is hoping to increase last year's number by advertising through Facebook, flyers and providing voting stations in the Commons from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3. Illustration by Hunter Nye.

Starting Tuesday, SGA will begin senator elections after a semester of trying to increase visibility of its voting process.

Last year, SGA had a 4.68 percent voter turnout, which equals about 1,479 total students.

According to SGA chair Miracle Allums, the voter turnout rate does not include MCV students. Since the MCV campus has their own SGA, Allums said some MCV students might find issues addressed by the Monroe Park campus SGA irrelevant.

“We’re trying to reach out everywhere,” said SGA elections chair Sajan Moktan.

This year, the SGA is trying to implement new ways to make voting more convenient for students. SGA wants to set up voting through the VCU website’s homepage. They are also using Student Commons to set up voting stations on the election days.

The SGA has been using its new public relations committee to focus on advertising that promotes various projects, including this semester’s elections.

The SGA continues to promote events through VCU’s TelegRAM and its Facebook page.

According to Moktan, these electronic sources are the most effective way to reach commuter students who may not spend a lot of time on campus.

“We’ve taken a lot of avenues to increase visibility of elections,” Allums said. “We’re trying to increase our transparency as time goes on.”

While the SGA works to promote when and where voting takes place, both Allums and Moktan said individual candidates also have a role in determining voting turnout.

“Candidates have to put passion into the elections,” Allums said. “It inspires other people to vote.”

Allums said she noticed a lot of candidates create Facebook pages to promote themselves and elections.

Current SGA senator and VCU junior Peter Olatuyi said he thinks getting students to vote is largely SGA’s responsibility.

“I believe SGA has an obligation … to get people to vote,” he said. Olatuyi, who is running for re-election this semester, does have a Facebook page set up for his campaign.

VCU sophomore Stephanie Browne is one of the 37 students running for a senator position this semester. She said she didn’t have a plan for campaigning but wants to focus on communicating with students.

“I plan on actually listening and getting feedback (from students),” Browne stated in an email. “I want to know what the students want changed and how we can go about doing it.”

Although the SGA and candidates are working toward more visibility around campus, participants in SGA and the voting process agree there’s still more to be done.

“(Action) is left to the students,” Olatuyi said. “Some students just don’t want to be associated with anything (political).”

Moktan said he also recognized some efforts may be futile.

“It’s everyone’s right to vote, and people just don’t vote,” he said. “There will always be people that don’t care.”

SGA voting will begin Nov. 1 and end Nov. 3. Students can log in at www.vcusga.com with their VCU eID to vote before 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 3.

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