Prior to spring break, when thousands of Shippensburg students flooded out of Shippensburg to their respective hometowns or beaches of their choosing, the Shippensburg University Student Government Association (SGA) held their annual elections for the 2019-20 Executive Rules Committee.
The SGA just restructured the ERC resulting in more positions being up for grabs than ever before.
Now, instead of the traditional president, vice president, secretary and treasurer positions, the elections featured a race for president and five vice president positions.
The race could only be described as pitiful. With five positions up for grabs, there were seven candidates in the race.
This poor turnout left four of the candidates running unopposed (vice president of finance, vice president of internal affairs and vice president of external affairs) facing threats from candidates.
The turnout begs the question- Why is it that so few students felt inclined to seek office within the ERC? Is it driven by an overwhelming apathy about the future direction of the university, or was a fire for change dulled by the feelings of inability to make a difference?
One question that does not need an answer is how fired up SU students get over the ever-increasing cost of attendance.
It seems unlikely that students simply do not care about the leadership of the university.
Find any student in the quad and ask them about the bevy of fees bombarded onto bills received by students each semester, and they will have a few choice words to say.
Discounting the theory that the lack of interest in seeking student office is due to apathy, that seemingly leaves one explanation.
Students do not run for office because the fire they feel for having a say in how their money is spent is dampened by the fear that they alone will not be able to make a difference. However, this does not seem to be the answer either.
The SGA wields a tremendous amount of power, with budget of (5498151). What students fail to realize is that this massive budget is made up largely of the costs and fees paid by students. This informational asymmetry causes a discrepancy.
When asked, students would love to have more of a say in where the funding for these mandatory fees go, but when they have a direct opportunity to make their voice heard they stay silent.
In this way, the lack of candidates running for office does not reflect apathy amongst the student body, nor a feeling that they alone cannot make a difference.
Rather, students do not run for office because they are simply unaware of what SGA does and the amount of weight they carry in deciding how the university is run.
Increasing the number of candidates running for office will benefit SGA and all Shippensburg students in more ways than one.
Not only will it ensure that only the most qualified individuals are winning elections and taking over these positions, but it will also create a more diverse electorate which can better serve their diverse constituents.
In order to do so, SGA must increase and make the election process more accessible and visible to members of the Student body who may not be as inclined to seek positions on SGA.