USF only saw about a 9% voter turnout of 44,682 eligible voters in the SG spring election, according to University Election Polls.
Voting allows citizens to elect leaders who will create laws and services that will positively impact a given community. Students need to make voting a habit, starting with Student Government (SG).
Specifically, local governments are responsible for education, housing, medical, transportation and police services. Local governments also manage taxpayer money, determining how much is allocated for these public services.
Local politicians are in charge of making sure these services and funds are beneficial to citizens, making it important that voters participate in selecting good local leaders.
The act of voting is based on habit. Students have a chance to start this habit now by voting for SG.
USF SG mirrors the U.S. government by having an executive, legislative and judicial branch. At the start of the fall and spring semesters, students get the chance to run for office and vote for representatives.
Each SG presidential campaign ticket has initiatives that outline its goals to improve USF. One SG presidential initiative that continues to have a big impact on the community is Feed-A-Bull, which is a food pantry that provides assistance to students facing food insecurities.
Feed-A-Bull is a necessity for many students. In the first four weeks of this semester, 1,000 visits were made to the pantry, according to a Sept. 28 article by The Oracle. Without the initial help of SG, students would not receive the food aid they need.
SG also initiated the Coca-Cola recycling vending machines in 2022. Every time a student recycles a plastic bottle into a machine on campus, Coca-Cola donates 5 cents to Feed-A-Bull. This makes a difference by not only helping students, but also the environment.
By exercising the right to vote, students can also make a difference on campus
“Just like U.S. elections, you’re giving someone else your voice so they can represent you,” senior psychology major Kaniz Angel said in an Oct. 4 article from The Oracle. “[SG] is the same thing but just more compact.”
Another way SG represents USF students is by managing funds. The SG senate oversees $17 million in activity and service fees that students pay $7 at the beginning of each semester for. SG decides how much of this money goes to each USF club or organization.
With over 600 active clubs, student organizations are a large part of USF student life. These clubs range from Greek life to academic discourse communities.
The SG President also serves on the Board of Trustees, which is responsible for implementing or modifying policies surrounding areas like degree programs, student financial aid and student admissions, according to the State University System of Florida.
It is important to elect an SG president who properly represents students since this authority helps make important decisions that directly impact students’ educational needs. Electing a president is a way for students to have a voice on the Board of Trustees.
However, some students believe voting does not matter.
“I think voting overall doesn’t interest me…it’s because I feel like my vote doesn’t matter because it’s one of many,” junior health science major Shadai Frederick said in an Oct. 4 article from The Oracle.
Yet, each individual vote adds up. The spring SG presidential candidates entered a runoff election since there was less than a 10% voting difference between candidates.
Voters need to contribute a vote to elect leaders that will ensure positive initiatives are being made to help the community ––– especially in local government.
Students have the opportunity to impact the local community by voting. USF students should take advantage of this opportunity by creating a voting habit that starts with SG.