Last week over a thousand UWM students voted in an election that determined 2014-2015 Student Association leadership.
The SA, which is the governing body for all students enrolled at UWM, is in charge of appropriating over 23 million dollars to various on-campus resource centers, organizations and recreational sports teams.
Unlike past SA elections, which have been plagued by scandal, this year’s elections ran flawlessly.
“Everything ran really smoothly,” Chair of the SA Independent Election Commission Carla Greve said.
Despite a flawless election this time around, past controversy haunts SA elections. Of the 25,188 ballots sent out to students, only 1,337 were filled out and submitted – a voter turnout of roughly five percent. While that figure may seem dismal, Greve is not surprised.
“The number of students who voted was lower than we had hoped but more than we expected,” said Greve. “Eventually I would like to see a turnout between 15 and 20 percent.”
Greve points to a decade full of scandal and a general lack of awareness as causes of low voter turnout.
“A lot of students don’t know what the SA does and students who do know what is going on [with the SA] are, understandably, still bitter about past events, past issues,” said Greve.
Like many UWM students, Greve hopes that newly elected SA leadership will be able to repair relationships between the SA and the student body.
“It will be a couple years before the disconnect is gone,” she said. “ I think the biggest two steps in repairing the relationship will be better transparency and better communication.”
This year’s election may have helped to restore the SA’s image, at least partially.
“The candidates ran really clean campaigns,” Greve said. “You can see that by looking at the final results. Nobody won by a large margin. There was no mudslinging, no name-calling.”
A mere 14 votes decided the race for Student Association president. With 553 votes cast in his name, President Elect Ryan Sorenson won 40 percent of the vote. Lavelle Young received 39 percent of the vote and finished in second place.
In all, 27 candidates ran for 21 seats. For a full list of winning candidates visit the SA-ICE home page. Ten positions, all school-specific senate seats, remain unfilled. Students who are interested in filling those vacant senate positions must collect a sufficient number of signatures and apply for the position they desire by visiting this link.
Greve offers her congratulations to all the winning candidates and her appreciation to everyone who participated in this year’s elections.
“I want to thank all the candidates this year as well as everybody who came out to vote,” Greve said. “It’s important that the SA move onward and upward.”