Editorial: SGA’s democracy is fragile if students refuse to vote

899
The 2022-2023 SGA Executive Board stands together in the Chamberlain Student Center. - Photo via Rowan University

Rowan University boasts a total student population of 19,568. Of these nearly 20,000 students, only 913 voted in Series 1 of Rowan’s Student Government Association (SGA) Elections. 

This means that under 5% of Rowan’s student population had full control of electing the student body president, executive vice president, chief financial officer, student trustee and alternate student trustee. All of these positions make critical decisions while representing the student body to Rowan’s administration, but how can they ever truly be representative of our community if the vast majority of it never voted in their election?

The Whit understands that being an elected member of SGA requires dedication, hard work and countless hours of stress. However, if they are ever going to be a representative of our community’s goals then more students need to vote. 

“It obviously is very important to vote because we are elected officials and we represent the student body,” Emily Lowe, the executive vice president of SGA for the current academic year, said in a discussion with Whit reporter Abigail Twiford. “We need to have people that are actually passionate about the positions, really want to help the students, aren’t just looking after their own interests, but looking after the best interests of the student body.”

Students’ lack of voting isn’t for SGA’s lack of trying. Lowe sent two emails to students announcing that Series 1 elections had opened. The information can also be found on their Instagram and website

The reality is that students simply do not care enough about the SGA to bother voting or they feel they don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision — which is a problem in itself.

Not only does SGA represent the student body to the administration, but they make almost all financial decisions in regard to clubs and club funding. The food you eat at Hollybash? It’s paid for with money allocated by SGA. The paper The Whit is printed on? Paid for by your student government.

Obviously, the SGA’s role in funding and representing the student body does not absolve them from criticism, but in order for them to be held accountable to the entire student population, more than 1,000 people need to vote in their election. 

In the recent Series 1 elections, the student body president was decided by just 100 votes. Voting for SGA chief financial officer saw an even smaller margin with just 21 votes deciding the winner. This lack of voting by students creates a fragile democratic system in which the tide of these elections could be turned just by a few individuals. Additionally, it fosters a lack of respect for those in leadership positions. With so few members of the student population voting, can people really claim that their election is representative of our community’s wishes? 

The Whit encourages all students to vote in the upcoming Series 2 elections where the community will elect a recording secretary and several assistant vice presidents to the executive board. Regardless if an election is large or small, The Whit believes that everyone’s vote matters in every election. 

And with the link to vote being sent straight to students’ Rowan emails — complete with brief biographies written by each candidate to discuss their political ideology — is there really any reason not to?

“We really encourage everyone to vote, we try to get the word out as much as possible because we are representing the student body,” Lowe said. “We want to do that the best we can and to do that we need to hear everybody’s voice and everybody’s perspective.”

For comments/questions about this story, email the.whit.rowan@gmail.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline

Comment