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The Northerner

Voter turnout low

Amanda Van Benschoten

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Only 348 students, approximately 2.4 percent of the student body, voted in the Nov. 12 and 13 Student Government Association election, where 15 new senators and two new judicial council justices were elected.

“I’m disappointed in the voter turnout, but I wasn’t surprised,” said Sheree Davis, a current senator-by-appointment and newly-elected senator for the spring semester. “In the senator election, fewer people vote. If they want their voice to be heard, they should vote.”

“I’m always disappointed with voter turnout,” said senator Mike Tobergta, chair of the SGA elections committee. “But it was actually higher than last year’s.”

SGA chief of staff and newly-elected senator James Pollitt said voter turnout in the fall election is typically lower than spring elections because executive board members are elected in the spring.

Four percent of students voted in the spring 2003 election.

Pollitt said this election was the first to use online voting, and that the department expects to use it again in future elections.

“Looking at past results, I think it increased turnout by about 50 percent,” SGA Executive Vice President Eric Fegan said. “I’ve heard nothing but positive things.”

The new senators and justices will take office in January 2004, effective at the first SGA meeting of the semester. They will also attend the SGA winter retreat, the date of which has yet to be determined.

Jeff Iker, James Pollitt, Sheree Davis, Josh Ruth, Kelly Keene, Heather Flannery, Joseph Mayer III, Heather Meeks, Ashley Scholl, Heather Gilmore, Michael Vaughan, Paul Myers, Amanda Bailey, Christina Smith and Jennifer Wallace are senators-elect.

Billy Volk and Chris Whitworth, both write-in candidates, were elected to the judicial council.

The senators ran on individual platforms that varied from preventing tuition increases, implementing a system of parking appeals, expediting Albright Center renovations and improving campus dining.

Davis ran and was elected on a platform to improve dining services on campus.

“I want to see more competition in dining services on campus so prices may go down and we can get higher quality food,” she said.

“I feel (Sodexho) is not meeting the standards we would like to see and that they’ve set for themselves.”

Josh Ruth said he plans to stick to his platform of keeping tuition low and making sure Albright renovations stay on schedule when he takes office in the spring.

“My main goal now, and in the spring, is to do whatever I can to help keep our tuition down,” he said.

“I think it’s an atrocity that our university budgetary issues are consistently being placed on the shoulders of the student body.”

Jennifer Wallace said she will commit herself to encouraging student voting and representing students as a senator.

“One of my goals as senator-elect for spring is to get better information as to where students can vote, so that all students voice their opinion,” she said.

“I also hope to be the voice for students who have many obligations at home as well as their studies.”

Of the 17 students elected, 14 ran on the “Norse Pride for Student Government” ticket, led by Pollitt.

Pollitt said the ticket was created to “have a better voice [for students] on campus.”

He said the ticket plans to maintain “an active role” in TeamNKU, which lobbies in Frankfort for university concerns, including tuition rates.

“We’re going to fight to keep tuition reasonable,” he said.

“If we’re not careful, they’re going to keep raising it (in congruence with recent increases.)”

Fegan and SGA President Chris Pace ran on a ticket together last spring and were the first students to do so at NKU.

“We gave it a shot, and it seemed to work pretty well,” Fegan said.

He said it is common for student government candidates at other universities to show solidarity by running on a ticket together.

SGA has been plagued by the resignation of 10 SGA members this semester, leaving positions open in the senate. Tobergta said the available seats will not be filled by the newly-elected senators, but by students appointed by SGA.

“We do have some openings for this semester still,” Tobergta said.

“We will make an appointment, and whoever we appoint will have to run in the spring.”

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Voter turnout low