New proposal would revamp USS structure

Jackie Valley

The future of the Kent State student government rests in the hands of students next Wednesday – 2007 Undergraduate Student Senate election day.

The online ballot includes 16 candidates vying for the nine senator positions and one referendum dealing with changes to the USS charter.

Last week, USS approved Executive Director Ross Miltner’s proposal to increase USS and name it the Undergraduate Student Government. The new USG – if approved by voters and the Board of Trustees – will consist of an Executive Cabinet and a Senate totaling 25 positions in an effort to gain representation from academic colleges, student living situations and diversity.

The changes also include the reorganization of the All Campus Programming Board to fall under the umbrella of the new USG. If the changes pass, the new USG would take effect in the 2008-2009 academic year.

With major changes on the ballot, USS hopes to see a larger number of students vote in the election, eclipsing last year’s meager turnout of 1,826 students, said Donna Carlton, USS adviser.

But Miltner said he does not expect a huge increase in voting because past efforts have failed.

“I would be surprised if it went higher than 2,000,” he said. “It seems like the only students who vote have a direct connection to the candidates or are very tied to the platform goals of the candidates running.”

Despite Kent State’s long history of student government – beginning in 1924 with the Kent State Council – Miltner said he doubts many students know the impact of USS.

According to the charter’s preamble, USS is the “primary vehicle by which the undergraduate student body provides its input into the university community.”

Miltner said he hopes students are aware of USS.

“I would like to think the majority of students at least know we have a student government,” he said. “And I would like to think a quarter of students know where the USS office is.”

Miltner said because USS is responsible for much of the programming through the Undergraduate Student Activities Fund, he thinks students should take an interest in their student government.

“USS matters because students need to have a voice in what’s going on around this place,” he said. “Every student pays thousands of dollars to be here.”

Miltner said it is hard to pin point the exact cause of the low voter turnout, but one reason may be the nature of college students.

“Today’s students are a lot busier,” he said. “Students have a lot less free time to get involved and get connected on campus.”

Of course, Miltner said voter apathy is also an issue.

“Some people don’t think it’s important to even bother with it,” he said.

Amy Groya, governmental affairs senator, said the USS elections are merely a reflection of dismal voter turnouts in national elections.

“In a culture like that, it’s hard to expect a large voter turnout,” she said.

Still, Groya stressed the importance of voting to ensure an accurate representation of the 24,000 undergraduate students at Kent State.

“If only 1,000 or 1,500 people vote, that’s nowhere near the people who the Senate represents,” she said.

Next Wednesday, students can vote in the USS election by going online to or through the Web for Students link in FlashLine.

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].