Student Government (SG) statutes state that “elections (must be held) in the event that the total number of filed Senate seats falls below 70 percent of the total number of allotted seats.”
That means out of the 60 Senate seats, at least 42 will have to be filled — SG barely surpasses that number with 44 current senators.
SG will hold a special summer election to fill the vacant 17 seats, with campaigning scheduled to start July 11.
Voting will be held July 23-24 at the polling locations outside of the Marshall Student Center (MSC) and the Library.
The results will be posted July 25 on the main doors to the SG Suite, MSC 4300 and the public notice board next to the MSC Information Desk.
Three seats are vacant from the College of Arts and Sciences, Education and Nursing; two seats from the College of Medicine, Engineering and The Arts; and one seat from the College of Business and Pharmacy.
Senate President Suzane Nazir said she set a priority to fill the empty seats to meet SG statutes.
Nazir said she made it a priority to hire a new supervisor of elections. Because of the lack of experience from the new hire, Student Government Advising, Training, and Operations (SGATO) will help run the election.
Every student must have completed the Candidate Information Sheet before July 2. Eligible students will be notified no later than July 10.
After receiving verification from the Election Rules Commission (ERC) or SGATO, candidates will be able to campaign July 11-24.
All Senate seats will become paid student employment positions once the candidate is officially certified and the appropriate paperwork is completed via the university, according to the special elections application packet.
“When I was elected, I knew there were vacant seats so I started organizing and planning in May,” Nazir said. “Previous Senate leadership have not held a summer special election in the past because of the difficulty of organizing one.”
Nazir said the Legislative Branch is not trying to fill all of the seats because there will be a required midterm election in October.
The contract with the voting company, Votenet, has been in place for two years. This program enables students to vote online and prevents any fees from being attached to the elections.
Since the foot traffic on campus has decreased because of the summer semester, Nazir said the SG marketing team is promoting the election on social media and online.
“We are only required to have a polling station outside the MSC but we decided to have the additional (site) because most students who are here for the summer are primarily near the library area,” Nazir said. “We believe this will increase turnout as well as having the option to vote online from anywhere.”
Nazir said the College of Arts and Sciences occupies 23 seats out of the 60, which is the largest allotment.
Vacant seats typically occur within the College of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy as well as the smaller colleges. Nazir said the reason for their absence is because senators end up resigning from the position mid-tenure.
“Usually, the Nursing students have to be at clinicals the next day at 5 a.m., but Senate doesn’t finish until around 10 p.m. so it never really works with their schedule,” Nazir said. “Also, students realize that they can’t balance the workload with their school work.”
Nazir said if the seats are occupied, it will create a more diverse SG.
“We want students who represent different areas of campus to participate in voting for budgets, bills and student concerns,” Nazir said. “The more senators that we have, the better it will be.”