For the first time, Temple Student Government is holding senatorial elections.
While Temple Student Government members fixate on the April 5 election day for the TSG presidential tickets, the Elections Commission is making TSG senatorial elections a priority.
“There was not nearly the amount of interest we need to have a successful campaign,” LaCole Foots, TSG elections commissioner, said about applications for senatorial candidacy.
“The Elections Commission is working to remedy the situation and get the word out [about TSG senatorial elections],” the senior political science and communications major said.
Attendance for all nine of the elections interest meetings was minimal.
Foots said there was a two-part application for candidacy, the first part including basic information. The deadline for the second part of the application, a questionnaire, is being extended to Friday at 9 p.m. The first part of the application is still due Wednesday by 5 p.m. in the TSG office in the Student Center Room 244.
Senate President Colin Saltry, a sophomore economics major, said the fact of the matter might be that TSG is not working hard enough to make students aware of their opportunity to get involved.
He also acknowledged that the system of the senatorial meetings could be a possible factor.
“You walk into the meeting, and you want to slit your wrists,” Saltry said. “Forty people have 40 different things to say about a topic.
“You can see why the healthcare reform and political party bickering happens – 40 people in a room talking,” Saltry added.
Some students said TSG has not made itself enough of a presence or reached out to all of its constituents.
“I think with most senators, it comes off as if they’re only doing it to put on their résumé,” Homecoming Queen and senior sociology major Candace Moses said.
“They need to be excited, and they need to do a better job of relaying what they do to their school,” she added.
Earlier this semester, Saltry and TSG President Kylie Patterson expressed their desire for senators to have a greater presence in their colleges.
“A big part [of this goal] was defining their role,” Patterson said of the senators. “In general, senators are doing a much better job, but I think they could be more aware of the groups they represent.”
Saltry attributes being stuck in meetings as one of the road blocks to furthering this goal.
“Nine times out of 10, we’re working on big bills. We’re stuck in the office or in meetings,” he said.
Saltry said if everyone in TSG could get on the same page, they would be able to bridge the gap to their constituents and encourage more people to run for office.
TSG Senate elections are new. Previously, student senators were selected through a process involving applications and review by faculty and administrators, with Senate leadership making the final decisions. Even current senators interested in maintaining their positions must go through the elections process in April.
“I’m really excited about this election process,” Patterson said. “Students will know who’s representing them on the micro and macro levels of TSG.”
TSG Senator and junior theater major Malcolm Kenyatta said elections “are going to increase dedication and what the senators bring to the table.”
Junior risk and insurance major Ben Mayer said elections will ensure commitment from candidates.
“Having people run for it, you know they’re going to be into it,” he said.
“I think with campus elections it isn’t always as effective, because most people don’t know about TSG unless they are in a student organization. Elections force senators to go out and meet students,” Moses said.
Patterson added that in the past, some people didn’t have the “power of the people” or seek the opinion of their constituents. Like Moses, Patterson said elections force candidates to do that.
Current senators and students advise potential candidates to be engaged in the wants and needs of the students and school they represent.
“They need to be outgoing and need to dive into issues pertaining to their colleges and bring these issues to the senate,” Senator and Allocations Chair Natalie Ramos-Castillo said.
Kenyatta said when people are looking for a senator, they should look for someone who emphasizes collaboration and is open to working with different types of people.
“You’re looking for someone who has vision,” he said. “When you look at someone’s platform, that makes the judgment call.”
“I would want to see someone who is truly accessible to their school … they should be really visible and be a part of [public relations] for their school,” Moses said.
Cory Sassano, a senior architecture major, said he’ll be looking for a candidate who “will take on the administration, and be a real voice for the students.”
“They should represent the student body,” Kelley Dougherty, a sophomore tourism major, said.
Jess Choi, a junior English major, said she is looking for senators who respect diversity at Temple and “who really represent” the school.
Patterson encouraged anyone interested in running for a Senate seat to do so. She said that any student who’s had a complaint should use that as motivation to join the TSG senate.
“In running for office, you’re better able to define and understand your vision for Temple University,” she said. “There’s no better place to be a self-starter.”
Saltry explained that one of the pros of Senate elections is that candidates will be held accountable by voters, and that elections in general promote democracy.
“If you see something wrong with the university, you could make change happen,” Saltry said.
“Anybody looking for a great opportunity to really make Temple more awesome in any way, whether that include making it more LGBTQ friendly, making it green or [creating] meal plan rollovers, this is the place to do it,” he added.
Foots tells students, “We have to give a hoot.”’
Angelo Fichera and Josh Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.