After a week of controversy regarding the student body president and vice president election, Student Government has turned its attention to student disinterest in senate positions that are up for grabs in the upcoming election.
About 10 people have signed up to be on the ballot for the senate election being held in April and, as a result, about 60 seats are vacant.
The paperwork to run for a senate seat is due on March 17, though Andrew Read, director of SG Elections Rules Committee, said the date may need to be pushed back.
“I don’t want to push (the due date) back too far, but if we only get 20 or 30 people, then we may have to,” Read said.
So far, most of the applications that have been submitted for senate positions have come from current senate members, Read said.
“I’ve made a lot of packets and they keep disappearing out of the office, so I know people have them,” Read said. “We might get slammed the last day, which happens a lot.”
Current Senate President Pro Tempore, Stavros Papandreou, said the problem may be that people aren’t really aware of the senate positions or just don’t have the extra time.
“It’s a tough job and it’s a volunteer thing and at the same time, we don’t market it as well as we should,” Papandreou said. “A lot of people don’t have time to get involved. We are in session every Tuesday and there are a lot of requirements.”
Students may also keep from getting involved because of the stigma associated with Student Government, Papandreou said.
“Every time there’s something wrong, it’s Student Government’s fault and people don’t want to be associated with that,” Papandreou said. “Of course, when you are enforcing the laws, you don’t look very favorable.”
Some students don’t realize the good things Student Government is responsible for, Papandreou said.
“Nobody says how Student Government is fighting for Bright Futures or how Omar (Khan) is fighting for students, or how we bring students events such as Homecoming and Roundup, or how we sit down and, as a senate, allocate money to Arts & Sciences-funded organizations,” Papandreou said. “There are a lot of things that go on with senate that people don’t know about.”
Adding to the problem, senate seats are expected to grow this year thanks to the increased student population. Each college has a different number of senators, with one senator assigned for every 500 students. Students are restricted to running and voting for the college they are in.
But in the future, the policy for the number of senators may change and a cap may be placed on the senate.
“We don’t want to waste student money to accommodate more senators than we need,” Papandreou said. “You need to keep manageable numbers as well; you can’t have 200 people discussing an issue in the time frame we have. We want to make it more efficient.”
If you are interested in running for SG senate, information is available on the Web at: http://sg.usf.edu/branches/legislative/ . Open seats are still available for the current session, which ends May 14.
In addition, students will be able to cast their votes for SG senators, student body president and vice president by logging onto www.usf.edu/vote on April 7 and 8.