Before college, student government elections were usually nothing more than popularity contests. At SF State it’s just the opposite, with few people on campus even knowing that student government exists.
It’s election season for the Associated Students Inc. and given dismal voter turnout figures in years past, candidates are trying their best to get the word out.
“The ASI board of directors has a lot of power in the school experience on this campus,” Jen Yuen, assistant election commissioner for ASI, said.
ASI is SF State’s version of student government. They provide programs including the Women’s Center and the Legal Resource Center, funded largely by the money paid from tuition. ASI also gave out $1,000 scholarships to eligible students earlier this month. All that was required to receive a scholarship was enrollment in the University for the entire academic year with a 2.5 cumulative GPA and an essay written by the applicant.
Students are charged a $42 fee that goes directly to the ASI to fund the organization.
The power to vote for or against programs lies in the hands of students. However, some students believe there is just not enough publicity about on-campus organizations.
“It’s the school leaders and programs and stuff. I mean they are probably good programs I don’t really know that much about them,” Kevin DeFranco psychology major, said.
Sonya Soltani, communications major and active vice president of external affairs for ASI, believes that the best way to create positive change is to open the lines of communication between the board, staff and students. Soltani wants students to become proactive in the issues they face and voice their opinions through voting.
“Students have a lot to complain about, but they always think and hope someone else will advocate for them,” she said. “ASI does advocate for you, but there is only 18 of us and we need to know what students need addressed.”
Tomas Ortega, 20, a candidate for representative at large and a photojournalism major, plans on campaigning as much as possible to promote awareness among students. Seeing that ASI is funded primarily through student fees, he wants to urge students to vote in this next campaign. Ortega agrees that students are not aware of the programs ASI has to offer or even what it is in general.
“I want to see the money I’m paying, and my financial aid go back into my pocket with these programs,” said Ortega.
He believes that active participation with clubs on campus may help familiarize students with ASI and spread awareness.
Some students feel like opportunity is there, but knowledge is what is lacking.
“We pay tuition and such, and some of that money is going towards those programs, so we should take advantage of it. Too bad no one really knows about it,” Kieran Pitt, a business major, said.
Students can run for executive office, which includes the president or class and graduate representatives, which correspond to class and major, such as an ethnic studies representative and a junior class representative; each class and area of study having its own representative. Three positions are open for representative at large. This person serves as the liaison between all SF State students and the ASI.
To run students must be enrolled for at least one semester prior to the election, maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and be in good academic standing.
Yuen believes that students should take a more proactive approach to participating in what goes on at SF State..
“I believe that students should vote; its a huge way students can take part of the school and make changes as well,” said Yuen.
Campaigning continues until March 22, and voting will take place between March 18 and 22. Students must bring a form of identification to the polling booths on campus in order to vote.