The fate of elections lies in the hands of CU students
Every semester the University of Colorado Student Union, CU’s student government, holds elections to determine who CU’s next student leaders will be. Controlling over $30 million dollars in student fees, UCSU is the most powerful student union in the nation. They fund and control 12 student cost centers, the largest of which are the UMC, Wardenburg and the Rec Center, and they form and debate policy that guides the campus and its students.
Despite the influence the elected members possess, it is rare for more than 20 percent of CU’s large student population, numbering near 30,000, to vote in the spring election. Fewer than 10 percent of students have historically participated in the fall elections. Two years ago, the number of students voting dipped below 1,000.
The Campus Press will break down the positions, the process and the people in an 11-part series that will run through April 20, the last day of voting. Stay with The Campus Press during this time for developments and results regarding the 2007 UCSU elections.
CU is known for many things, but a high voter turn out in student government elections is not one of them. The first day of elections is Monday and the fate of UCSU and a $30 million budget is now in the hands of the students.
The Campus Press spoke with various students in an attempt to find out who is voting, and what qualities students look for in their representatives.
UCSU Elections 2007: CP’s 11-day Series
Part 1 | Rules of the race – The ins and outs of CU’s election code
Part 2 | Taking office – The elected officials and what they do
Part 3 | Repeat runners – What they’ve accomplished, why they’re back
Part 4 | An apathetic audience – What UCSU is doing to make you care
Part 5 | Showing support – A look at CU’s student groups and the candidates they endorse
Part 6 | The candidates – An in-depth look at the election hopefuls
Part 7 | The voters – Students who vote, and why they care
Part 8 | Voting trends – A look at the winning tickets of the past, and the stronghold of the campaigners
Part 9 | $30 million strong – An analysis of UCSU and how it differs from other student governments in the region
Part 10 | Autonomy – A look at the 1985 agreement that gave UCSU its power today
Part 11 | The campaign trail – Candidate experiences from the 2007 campaigning process
Sophomore environmental studies major Collin Burkhart voted in the 2006 elections. Burkhart says he is dissatisfied with the current student government because of this year’s threat to shut down the cost centers with the Fair and Equal Access Bill. Burkhart said, in his opinion, the Fair and Equal access bill was “irresponsible and shady.” When asked what qualities he looks for in a representative, Burkhart said he hopes to see an elected cabinet focused on diversity.
“I want to be represented by students with more of a focus on clubs, organizations and diversity rather than the Greek system,” Burkhart said.
Burhart said he did his research of candidates on the Internet and that he plans on voting for the Unity ticket.
This will be freshman electrical engineering major David Sprinzen’s first opportunity to participate in student government elections. Sprinzen said he is still not sure if he is going to vote but knows what he is looking for in a representative.
“Someone who isn’t nerdy,” Sprinzen said. “Someone who is well rounded and responsible but still knows how to have a good time. I think that a lot of it is also their motivation. Whether it’s because they want it, or they just want it to be on their transcript.”
Many students were shocked by how much control the UCSU has over money. After realizing that UCSU handled $30 million, junior psychology major Neha Shrestha said she hopes a representative who has a good “business mind” will be elected. Shrestha didn’t vote last year and is not sure if she will this year either.
Sophomore international affairs major John Dykes is another repeat voter. Dykes said that although this will be his second year voting for student government, he has yet to see much of their impact on campus.
“I don’t feel like I’ve ever seen their effects,” Dykes said. ” If there was a big change I feel like I would know about it.”
Dykes said he is looking for a representative that will make CU look good in the eyes of the media and the community.
“We’ve had a controversial reputation in the past, and we should have representatives that make us look better in the public spotlight,” Dykes said.
On the other hand, junior biochemistry major Jillian Giffen said she appreciates UCSU and its work. Giffen said she is a fan of the Illiterate magazine UCSU funds. Giffen voted last year and plans on voting again. Giffen said she is voting this year mainly to support a friend who is in the race.
Students can vote online at http://www-ucsu.colorado.edu/ivote/. Polls close on Friday at 8 p.m.
Tuesday: Where do the campaigners find their strongholds? A look at voting trends of the past.