Representing an apathetic campus

It’s sad to say, but we are an apathetic campus. Politics are far from the forefront of most of our minds — talk of Heath Ledger’s death far trumped Fred Thompson’s withdrawal from the presidential race Tuesday on campus. Granted, no one thought the actor-politician was going to march into the White House, but his withdrawal could sway the Republican primaries.

But that’s national politics. We care more about the things that affect us directly here at Kent State, right?


We’re even more apathetic when it comes to our student politics. Last March, candidates for two of the nine Undergraduate Student Senate positions ran unopposed (a third position ended unopposed after one candidate withdrew.) Only about 10 percent of the undergraduate student body even bothered to vote.

That’s concerning.

Even more concerning is that with the upcoming election, when USS officially becomes Undergraduate Student Government, there will be 25 positions up for election. Frankly, we don’t think there will be enough good candidates to fill those seats.

We aren’t alone. Current executive director Katie Hale expressed similar worries about finding candidates.

“That’s definitely a concern,” Hale was quoted as saying in a Jan. 17 Daily Kent Stater article. “To be honest,” she said, “there’s a concern for that every year.”

Don’t get us wrong — the thought behind the restructuring is logical. It makes sense for each individual college to have its own representative. We think it’s logical for commuter, non-traditional and international students to have someone in student government looking out for their interests specifically. What we are questioning is if this is stretching things a little too thin.

As in previous elections, should someone run unopposed, he or she will automatically win that seat. How will students benefit if those senators are not qualified? And that is assuming there will even be at least one person vying for each seat. If there’s not, where do we go from there?

We are also worried about the logistics of having a larger, more complex student government. More bodies often means more dodging responsibility and less ultimately getting done.

The budget USS currently has will also have to be extended to pay each of these new senators. Compensation will remain the same for the executive director and the eight directors, who are to have the same roles as the current eight senators, such as governmental affairs and student involvement. While the total for the 16 new positions won’t break the bank — executive director, the highest paid position, receives $2,510 — we are still a little apprehensive about giving a sizable budget increase for something that we are concerned may not work out.

We’re going to be following this closely as the election for USG develops, and we hope our fears are proved unfounded. Either way, this has to work out. USS, and now USG, is too important to fall victim to an apathetic campus.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.