Student Government lacking candidates

As I type this, University of North Dakota students will have the chance to select student representatives to UND Student Government and the University Senate. By press time, we will have the official results.

However, unlike most elections, for student government or otherwise, there were very few candidates interested in the open positions and many races are not contested. The top positions at the school, Student Body President and Vice President, have only one team on the ballot.

This is not meant to disparage any of those students who have chosen to seek the seats. There are very likely qualified and intelligent candidates seeking these positions, and I consider many of them friends.

What is a bit disconcerting, however, is the seeming lack of interest from the student body in the positions. It could be that students don’t see Student Senate or University Senate as effective or important, or maybe students don’t think their voice would be heard through either body even if they did join.

There are certainly important issues currently being addressed on campus for which the student voice is important. Over the past several weeks, some students around campus have been vocal about many issues, especially the budget. Looking back further, the nickname, logo and tuition rates have all been prevalent and controversial topics.

But when the time came to serve on a body that directly interacts with the university administration on these important decisions, the reaction from students has been completely underwhelming. Perhaps it’s easier to post on social media then spending the time trying to actually influence policy.

This sort of apathy also showed when the presidential candidates visited campus. The next leader of our university was in the process of being selected, but students were few and far between at the open forums hosted for the candidates.

There are many ways students can be involved in their community, and while Student Government is not the only ways for students to express their opinions and work with the administration, they certainly are a good place to start.

As the school year comes to a close, the university will be making many difficult choices. I agree with President Ed Schafer that these budget cuts will allow the university to put itself on a long-term path to success, but that doesn’t make them any easier to stomach for some.

It’s much more difficult for a leader to make judgment calls when budgets are tight then when money is abundant; this is a fact that should be recognized as leaders at the university try to make these tough choices

Students should continue to express their concerns and suggestions, and it is my hope that this lack of interest in serving in Student Government does not necessarily mean there is a lack of interest in the future of the university.

Sean Cleary is the editor-in-chief of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]