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Interest in UISG positions low this year

BY MICHELLE HILLENBRAND | MARCH 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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Campaigning for a University of Iowa Student Government seat could be a bit easier this year.
Because of the small number of candidates, each one is likely guaranteed to win a seat, lessening campaign pressures, said Kristi Finger, the Office of Student Life’s assistant director for student-organization development.

Only 39 students are vying for Senate seats this year, compared with between 40 and 50 in 2009, said Gordon Sonnenschein, the Student Elections Board spokesman.

That’s significant because there are also 39 open seats, Finger said.

While the Student Elections Board still plans to hold elections, they will be held later in the semester as a result of feedback from outgoing UISG President Michael Currie, she said.

Currie said he thinks the reason for the decrease in petitions is that the presidential and vice-presidential candidates recruit for their own tickets.

Because John Rigby and Erica Hayes are running unopposed for president and vice president, they only recruited enough senators to fill their ticket.

“If there were another ticket, you would probably have 39 other people running,” Currie said.

But Timothy Hagle, a UI political-science associate professor, said he found the decreased interest in student government odd, noting it’s most likely an anomaly this year.

“We are in pretty tough economic times, and the university is hurting,” he said. “Some of the issues that people will run on maybe don’t seem quite as important, and people are focused on other activities.”

With the university struggling financially, he said, students might have trouble justifying their campaign hopes.

And without stiff competition, candidates likely won’t dole out as many dollars.

Currie and UISG Vice President JD Moran spent approximately $3,000 to campaign — money that came out of their own pockets.

Rigby said his ticket plans to spend around $800 of the members’ money, mostly on T-shirts and fliers. While senators on the ticket were not required to donate money to the campaign, some chose to give around $20 or $25.

The mass number of T-shirts, buttons, and fliers that usually grace the campus during UISG elections will still be around, Rigby said, but won’t be as extravagant as in past years.

At other Big Ten schools, interest in student government has remained steady.

Abhishek Mahanti, the president of the University of Michigan Student Assembly, said the number of students interested is no different this year.

Tyler Junger, the head of the Associated Students of Madison, said the University of Wisconsin hasn’t seen a significant drop either.

Currie thinks UISG elections will most likely return to normal next year, he said, and he feels the lone presidential ticket is a result of most students not wanting to contest Rigby and Hayes.

“It would be suicide to run against them,” he said.

Candidates can begin campaigning March 29, and elections will be held April 7-8.


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