The student government body has a myriad of roles and responsibilities to fill from managing the budget for student organizations and clubs to acting as representatives for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The president and vice president are paid thousands of dollars a year to perform their duties well and responsibly, and the senate handles a budget of millions of dollars for student organizations.
Yet, only 13 percent of the students at USFSP voted in the student government election that was held Feb. 25 to Feb. 28. A total of 574 students voted with 327 of those votes going toward the winning candidates for student body president and vice president.
Despite student voter turnout being fractional, members of student government said the turnout for the last election was higher than others in the past.
Dwayne Isaacs, advisor for student government and director of student life and engagement, expressed a similar sentiment. He said while student government members “always want it to be higher,” the voter turnout in this election did relatively well and almost met its goal of 600 voters.
Isaacs cited timing as a main obstacle for student turnout. Both voting and campaigning are limited to the time allowed as stated in the student government statutes on page 70:
“701.3.1 Official Campaigning shall begin one (1) week prior to the week of voting for the General Election and will end when the polls close on the fourth day of voting.”
If this feels like a narrow window of time, remember that elections were also held during midterms week and not too long before spring break. Despite the time limit, Isaacs said the percentage of student voters at USFSP is higher than Tampa’s.
What were student’s reasons for voting or not voting?
When asked during an informal survey, the majority of the 36 students interviewed said indifference to the campaign and lack of awareness during its run time was their main reason for not voting. Out of the students who did vote, the number of students who lived on campus vs those who lived off campus were equal. The classes were made up of a vast majority of juniors and seniors.
Despite the USFSP campus being a relatively small and intimate campus, it also has a trend of low student activity, especially where student government is concerned.
Enjoyed Still better than Tampa: SG election turnout?
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