Senate race lacks competitors

The presidential and vice presidential race has blanketed the campus in posters and campaign slogans, but almost all the dorm senators are running unopposed.

Kathryn Watson, Writer

While AS presidential and vice presidential candidates push full speed ahead with debates and campaign strategies in the final days before next week’s elections, most senate candidates have no one to debate or campaign against.

All but two of the 16 candidates for AS senate seats are running unopposed this year. Sophomores Matthew Welch and Jordan Brunett, running for one senate seat in Stewart Hall, are the only ones with competition.

Justin DeVesta, who served on the senate as a commuter senator before he was elected to his current position as AS vice president for the current academic year, said there is no one reason why student government isn’t a popular choice for students.

“There are a number of reasons,” De Vesta said. “My goal in AS this year was for people to be a little more out there … trying to break down those stereotypes.”

No more applications will be accepted. In contrast with previous years, no senate videos were shown in this year’s election chapel Monday, since not enough candidates had signed up or were available when filming began. Only one current senator, Hart senator Stephanie Wilkerson, is running for reelection, aside from Lizzie Neely and Cynthia Pimentel for executive seats.

The small senate candidate pool isn’t unprecedented for AS. Last year, half of the candidates ran unopposed, and three years before in 2006, all candidates ran unopposed.

Other student leadership roles are more popular. About 170 people applied to be an RA for 70 spots this spring, and about 58 people applied for 130 spots for SOS, according to vice presidential candidate John Drebinger and presidential candidate Dustin Arnold.

Arnold, who directed SOS this year, said applications for senate positions are often less popular because the positions are more business-like. Also, the senators aren’t always as visible to the students, he said.

Some may see the senate as a major-specific job, suited particularly to majors like political science, De Vesta said. Others simply may not know what the job entails.

Senate members are in charge of appropriating more than half a million dollars of student funds, as well as planning events and keeping communication lines open between AS and the student body.

Neely said the campaigning process itself can be“nerve-wracking for students who might otherwise be interested in applying.

Drebinger, who had originally wanted to be an RA his sophomore year, stepped in as the first-ever freshmen representative last spring when one of the senate spots opened mid-year. While AS trains members only at the beginning of semesters, RAs receive extensive training throughout the year, he said.

Drebinger also said ResLife focuses on developing RAs not just for the benefit of floor members, but also for the benefit of the RAs themselves. AS, on the other hand, focuses more intently on developing senators for the sake of their constituents.

“The way senate is set up now, it asks a lot of things from senators but doesn’t give a lot of things to them,” he said.

Reporting contributed by Courtney Wallis

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