Most seats in senate election unopposed

Jessica Rothschuh

Five of nine positions in the Undergraduate Student Senate have only one candidate running in the upcoming election March 9 and 10.

USS adviser Donna Carlton said 23 students picked up applications but only 15 turned them in, one of whom dropped out of the race.

“This is one of the lower groups we’ve ever had,” Carlton said. “I think students are very busy right now with tuition increasing.”

Students may be taking larger course loads in an effort to graduate more quickly or may be working to supplement their increasing tuition, she said.

“Maybe we need to make it more attractive,” Carlton said.

She will be researching ways to do this, paying attention to the changing dynamics in the student body.

Jason MacDonald, assistant professor of political science, said unopposed positions are not infrequent in local, state and national elections. He said these elections shouldn’t be compared with USS elections because these positions do not hold the same power to effect change.

“My hunch is that very few students care at all about the Undergraduate Student Senate,” MacDonald said. “Those seats aren’t viewed as very attractive. That’d be my hypothesis.”

In large elections, seats are often uncontested when there is an incumbent.

“They have a lot of support, so potential candidates decide not to run because they know they could never win,” MacDonald said.

In elections, a lack of competition can have a negative effect on the way a politician conducts him or herself in office.

“If you know that you don’t have to worry about being re-elected, it makes it easier for you to do whatever you want,” MacDonald said. “One consequence is members are pretty much free to do what they want.”

Vera Smith, freshman voice performance major, said she saw advertisements around campus but didn’t consider running.

“For me, it would be way too much to have another responsibility,” Smith said.

She said political science majors would potentially be interested in USS because it complements their major.

Several of the candidates running unopposed expressed disappointment with the lack of student interest in USS.

The unopposed positions are those of academic affairs senator, business and finance senator, community affairs senator and executive director.

Contact student politics reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].