Senator absences, vacancies lead to available seats
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
Last Tuesday, while the Student Government (SG) Senate was in session, six out of 47 senators were absent from the fourth floor of the Marshall Student Center (MSC) and 14 had resigned or been asked to resign after realizing “there’s a lot of class” or had other obligations since they were elected in spring.
“Sometimes senators can’t make it. We do have some problems with senators not making it,” Senate President Jeff Gao said. “It’s usually senators forgetting that they’re senators.”
But as campaigning for midterm Senate elections began Monday, some have questioned whether the absence of senators at the meetings are leading to an absence of student body representation.
Jonathan Troutman, a junior in the College of Public Health, wondered how fair decisions in allocations could be made if only a few were present.
“If there’s one representative from one college, and there isn’t one from another college, how is everyone given a fair chance?” he said.
Members of Senate are elected each year mid-fall and in spring and serve as the legislative body for SG.
They are responsible for the allocation of roughly $13 million dollars collected from the Activity and Service (A&S) fees paid by students at USF. These allocations fund entities such as the Campus Recreation Center, the MSC, University Lecture Series, Homecoming and the more than 260 student-run organizations on campus.
Others believe that some empty seats will not necessarily hurt senate proceedings, Lauren Hawley, a senior in the College of Business, said, “As long as there is fair representation from the people that are still there, it shouldn’t be a big deal.”
But attendance fluctuates, and Gao said a drop in attendance is typical during this time of year.
“They realize there’s a lot of class, or they get an internship and decide to pull out or they get themselves pulled out,” he said, “That’s what mid-term elections are for.”
But attendance at the last meeting was better than much of last year.
Last fall, during the first meeting last year, five senators were absent from the chamber — the lowest number of absences between that meeting and mid-term elections. The average number of absent senators during that same time frame was around nine, the highest number being fourteen absences at the Sept. 20 meeting. Throughout the time there were 49 senators in total, but by the meeting before the mid-term elections, four had dropped out or been dropped.
After last year’s midterm elections, there were a total of 58 senators.
The candidates standing for midterm Senate election will be running to fill 14 open seats, which include two for the College of Arts and Sciences, one for the College of Business, two for the College of the Arts, three for the College of Education, one for the College of Medicine, two for the College of Nursing, two for the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences and one for the College of Public Health.
“Make sure to go out there and vote, and know which candidates you’re voting for,” Karim Hussein, supervisor of elections, said. “If (the candidates) have biographies by their names, read those, and look out for the chalk and campaigning around campus.”
Voting takes place Oct. 9 and Oct. 10.