SGA needs students’ support

On Nov. 15 and 16, Northern Kentucky University students will be selecting who will serve in the Student Government Association – or at least they should be.

Unfortunately, on a campus of more than 14,000, only 14 names will appear on a ballot designed for 15.

Fourteen students out of more than 14,000. That’s not even a percentage point. Fourteen people will not fill the already-understaffed senate, whose Web site currently shows only 24 senators in a 30-seat legislature.

Only one person applied for the two open justice seats.

Still, this appalling apathy is not an anomaly. It’s not even unusual.

The senate has been incomplete for almost a year and a half. SGA began last semester lacking 12 senators, two executive board members and a justice. This semester, the Senate still falls short by six.

NKU’s voter turnout rate gives even more disheartening news. A year ago, only 332 votes were cast during the November elections. While this figure doubled to more than 750 students in the presidential spring elections, it still comprises only six percent of the student body.

This indifference hasn’t escaped SGA members’ attention. Most students, as Sen. Michael Tobergta wrote in a letter letter to the editor in The Northerner in 2005, “say SGA is a joke.”

Former SGA Presidential Candidate and current Senator Paul Myers wrote in his letter to the editor in The Northerner in 2005 that, concerning SGA, “Many students do not even know that such a body exists.”

Why should we students bother to know? Why should we care about SGA?

Well, there was the former president’s controversial vote in favor of the plus-minus grading system in spring 2006.

Then there’s the compromise over the divisive smoking policy SGA crafted this semester.

SGA also walked at the end of September with NKU’s administrators, spotlighting areas that pose a danger to students.

And there’s the allocation of an additional $100,000 to student activities last week.

SGA’s committees exist to serve students. If, or rather when, students have complaints about parking, SGA’s University Improvements committee handles them.

Construction blocks off large parts of the free speech zone. A university professor ripped apart a pro-life display last semester. A gay NKU student reported his dorm door being vandalized this semester. These clearly prove that the Student Rights Committee needs to be there to fight for students.

SGA acts as our liaison to the administration. How can SGA President Josh Ruth ask University President James Votruba on the behalf of students for more funding and fewer fines, when less than two percent of the student body voted for him?

Perhaps SGA could accomplish more if it had enough students in its senate. Maybe, with an adequate staff and competitive races in place of constant vacancies and uncontested elections, SGA could actually acquire what students require.

But, as long as SGA is considered nothing more than a farce and NKU students refuse to even vote, much less run for office, a laugh is all we can hope to gain from SGA’s efforts.

And then, the joke’s on us.