SGA looks to improve election turnout

Molly Braxton | Assistant News Editor

Three percent of students that currently attend University of North Carolina Wilmington voted in an election that decides who controls over $600,000 worth of student fees that are coming directly from their pocket.

According to the Student Government Association election results, only 422 students voted in this year’s election out of approximately 14,000 students the school has enrolled.

Bridget Woodward, one of the write-in candidates in this years’ election, only received two votes in the election and won a position for an at-large senator.  

“I think it shows a lot of apathy on the side of the students of the school because this is the government that represents them,” Woodward said. “Students don’t care, but you know that apathy is what got me this position.”

Actually getting an SGA position came as a complete shock to Woodward who said she “wasn’t even sure what the position was or the responsibilities that came with it.” She, however, is not alone in owing the apathy of the student body for her position.

Woodward is one of the eight people who won a position in the SGA with four votes or less. That means that approximately .0028% of the student body supported these particular candidates being voted into office.

“We strive to listen to every students’ concern but if they do not know about our organization then unfortunately, that objective is unattainable,” Senior Class President Lindsey Rickards said.  

Steve Nunez, UNCW Non-traditional senator, believes students not realizing just how much SGA is involved on campus causes the student body’s general unconcern about SGA.

“We share the same sentiment that 422 students out of 14,000 on campus is just simply not enough, because student government does actually have an effect on day to day student life here,” Nunez said.

Students being uninvolved with student government isn’t limited to just UNCW. Derek Hafenmaier, who aided in the campaign process at Appalachian State University, said that only around 10% of their student body voted this year.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill also suffered in participation in their elections this year. According to The Daily Tarheel’s website, only 16.6% of students voted in this years SGA election.

The size and significance of student government associations on college campuses often gets dismissed by the student population, even though they are the individuals supporting various organizations students are passionate about.  

“We are the largest organization on campus, we do all the appropriations for all the student organizations on campus,” Nunez said. “We are like the liaison between administration and student body.”

UNCW’s SGA receives over $600,000 in funding each year that comes in the form of a $53 student fee. This immense budget makes SGA the largest organization on campus, but looking at the numbers it has one of the lowest involvement rates.

Denise McKinney, a UNCW student that didn’t vote, had no idea just how far-reaching SGA is.

“I guess I haven’t gotten a proper understanding of the role in SGA on campus,” McKinney said. “I’m not sure how voting would help with overall improvement of campus life.”

Nunez said getting people involved next year would be a task that he and the newly elected SGA members are willing to take on. The election process next year will be quite different. Nunez says SGA plans on allowing the campaigning process to start sooner in the hopes of reaching and educating more students on SGA.

According to the SGA office, changes in SGA policies will be announced April 7. The event will inform the student body, as well as SGA members, of the many changes occurring in SGA and their policies for next year. These changes will hopefully increase student involvement throughout campus.