As of Wednesday, campaigns for student body president have opened. In just two short weeks, students are expected to choose the NDSU community’s next leader.
And we’ll need leaders.
Our next student body president and vice president will face a North Dakota legislative session, the over-allocation of student fees and continued budget cuts at both the state and university level.
Choosing our next executives shouldn’t be a decision we take lightly. Unfortunately, it’s one we, the student body, do.
And with only two weeks to choose, it’s not a surprise students don’t take the campaigns more seriously.
A majority of the student body cannot make an educated choice in just two weeks. It becomes especially difficult as the number of tickets increases and when spring recess cuts into the schedule.
Last year, just over 1,700 students voted in the student body elections.
We can trump that up to saying young people rarely turn out for elections at any level, but this year’s elections for homecoming court showed us more students will vote, if prompted.
Over 3,000 students voted for homecoming king and queen in October.
Granted, that’s still only about 20 percent of campus, and because more people are running, more people are likely to vote.
But we should strive for more when it comes to student body elections. We should expect and need students outside of student government and the candidates’ immediate friends and classmates to turnout on election day.
Based on conversations with chief justice Mathew Warsocki and public relations executive Nikki Borstad, the time limit is based on a concern that if extended much longer, students will lose interest in campaigns. Students returning from spring break will no longer care and forget to vote altogether.
We’ve got to have more faith in students and their ability to care.
When revising next year’s election code, the student court should consider extending student body election campaigns to one month.
Even with the use of social media and the ability for candidates to share their platforms online, two weeks only allows for students to understand each team’s platforms at the most basic level.
For students who are less active, it might mean receiving a Listserv reminding them to vote, which could boil down to picking the name of a team they walked past once in the Union. Or, more likely, they don’t vote at all.
With more time, candidates won’t be forced to cram 100 student organization visits into 14 days.
The additional weeks will allow candidates to reach out to more students and for students to think more critically of each team.
As is, why vote at all if we’re all choosing someone at random or based on a quick first impression?
The student court has taken steps in the right direction.
This year’s election code allows for candidates to send a Listserv detailing their platform as well as promoting their social media. It pushes for more public relations work to promote the elections and debates and also provides that the Bison media entities can host one joint debate.
These are important.
But extending the time candidates are allowed to campaign is the next important step.
If candidates run themselves dry or their grades suffer in that time period, that’s a personal choice. But when writing the election code, the student court should prioritize the student body’s ability to make an informed choice over the candidates’ stress or ability to maintain their studies.
The court could also choose to incorporate other regulations on candidates behavior to ensure the students maintain performance in the classroom.
The court could mandate that candidates miss no more than a certain number of credit hours in the month of campaigning. They could choose to not increase the team’s spending limit, which would force further efficiency in the extended time period.
Running in student body elections is no easy task. Relaxing the election season to a month could further stress go-getting candidates, but it would also better inform the student body.
If students are given a reason to care, they will. It’s our job, as a media entity, and their job, as the student government, to make sure students are given that reason.