As we enter the fourth week of the spring semester, the Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government is preparing for this year’s student government elections. The executive cabinet election is scheduled to begin Feb. 7, and the positions open for election are president, Senate director and Programs Board director.
The Echo reported last year that a total of 411 students voted in the spring 2017 executive cabinet election, which is equivalent to about 10 percent of the entire undergraduate student body. This voter turnout was a small increase from the year prior.
“I want to say a lot of students just don’t care,” said ASCLU President Nick Steinwender. “That was kind of disappointing to me that, you know, you do have a voice on campus by voting for these people, and a lot of students end up complaining that things don’t happen.”
ASCLU Senate Director Daniel Buonauro said the number of students voting is “a pretty soild amount.”
Steinwender has served on government since his first semester freshman year when he was elected as a senator. This year he has been serving as student body president, and has decided to run again in the upcoming executive cabinet election.
“We kind of try to entice students to vote,” Steinwender said. “Last year, we started doing more of the, you know, cupcakes, pizza, sandwiches, kind of more incentives, and voter turnout does increase, but it’s single-digit percentage increases.”
Buonauro said these incentives help, and that it would be harder to get votes without events on the Spine.
Steinwender believes more can be done to encourage students to vote in the election.
“We’ll just kind of have to keep trying different things and seeing if we’re more successful,” Steinwender said.
Apart from low voter turnout, another issue faced by ASCLUG is the lack of students running for government positions. Last year, the candidates for president and Programs Board director ran unopposed.
“It’s disappointing because you do want students to kind of have options, and I don’t know if it’s that people don’t have the passion to do it [or that] it’s very time-consuming,” Steinwender said.
Programs Board Director Samantha Schindler said that they frequently encourage students to consider running for an executive cabinet position, especially at their board meetings.
“We definitely advertise it when we talk in our meetings so the people on our boards know that the ability to run for the positions are coming up really fast, and if they want to run, they should,” Schindler said.
All students who are interested in running for an executive cabinet position are required to attend a mandatory interest meeting and submit a statement of candidacy.
“We have to give them an elections package and just kind of familiarize them with the rules of the election. Then they sign their name and the position they’re running for,” Buonauro said.
In order to run for any of the three positions in the executive cabinet, students must be enrolled full-time, maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and have at least two semesters of experience in student government.
Steinwender estimated that there are a total of 43 students who are eligible to run for an executive cabinet position in this year’s election, but believes there are other factors to take into consideration when making such an estimate.
“I would say it’s closer to about 25 students who are currently involved in student government who would be eligible to run. Then you count in the freshmen, who I would say typically do not run for an executive cabinet position, and even sophomores, it’s pretty infrequent,” Steinwender said.
Steinwender said primarily juniors run for positions, and when looking at those eligible, “the number decreases even more.”
The mandatory interest meeting will take place Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in Jack’s Corner. The voting period for the executive cabinet election will begin Feb. 21 and end Feb. 22.
*Updated 9:37a.m. 2/6/18