If you are a student reading this editorial on Tuesday, Sep. 17, then you have less than 24 hours to vote for UTSA’s Student Government Association (SGA) representatives. These elected representatives are the student body’s voice to the university. SGA is funded by student fees; therefore, SGA is intended to promote the interest of all students. The election closes on Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Didn’t know about the election? That’s the problem.
Voter turnout for SGA elections have been historically abismal. According to SGA’s website, the general election of Fall 2018 had a voter turnout of only 530 students. Can 530 votes accurately represent the interests of over 30,000 students? If SGA is the voice of all UTSA students, then the Fall 2018 election was the voice of less than two percent of the entire student body.
Either the UTSA student body is apathetic towards their own elections, or SGA is poorly informing students about elections. We believe the latter.
Instead of perpetuating a sad imitation of the democratic process, SGA should notify students with enough time to cast an informed vote. In order for this to happen, SGA needs to invest in public awareness about upcoming student elections. Otherwise, a yearly budget over $45,000 of student fees should not fund SGA’s inactivity.
Granted, all candidates have the responsibility to advertise their own campaigns and persuade students to vote for them on RowdyLink. However, the responsibility of notifying the student body of an upcoming election is not incumbent upon the candidates vying for positions; SGA is solely responsible for the promotion of the elections they hold.
Students should be able to walk from one class to another and be aware of an upcoming or ongoing election, whether that be because SGA representatives are actively tabling or because signage is displayed. Following SGA on social media or logging onto RowdyLink by chance during an election should not be how students learn about an election.
When SGA votes on their budget this week, they should allocate more funds towards voter engagement, public information and efforts to improve their voter turnout. SGA should focus on ensuring their representatives are actually representative of their constituencies.
Go to http://rowdylink.utsa.edu/ before 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday to cast your vote.