Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

Reporting On An Unrepresentative Student Government

Less than 7 percent of UGA students can wear this sticker. (Photo courtesy Vox Efx)

In our editorial for the Summer 2014 print edition, we noted that voter turnout for the 2014 SGA elections was barrel-scrapingly low despite weeks of hype and an electronic voting system that did not require students to so much as shift their rears from the couch to cast a ballot.

This year, the winning executive ticket, Drew-Jim-Brittany, won with the support of 4.2 percent of the student body, as expressed by the 1,459 votes cast in its favor.

The most votes garnered by any senate candidate was 192 to Senator-Elect Greg Sullivan of Franklin College. Senator-Elect Chloe Weigle of the School of Environment and Design was elected with two votes. Senator-Elect Allison McWhorter Anderson of the Odum School was elected with a total of one vote (her own, or a Good Samaritan’s? — We may never know)…

…With a record like that, SGA should be concerned about its mandate. But for the grace of the Board of Regents, which requires all USG institutions to have some sort of student government, our SGA has no mandate.

Low voter turnout is a function of many things, among them (1) SGA’s limited authority, which is better than the alternative, (2) SGA’s history of off-putting activist antics, which include resolutions to make you poorer, deny you delicious food on campus, and accuse you of contributing to a culture of hate, and (3) Apathy from students who would rather be drinking or studying for the MCAT.

Whatever the reason, voter turnout is very low, yet SGA members often speak to the media and other stakeholders on behalf of students. This seems presumptuous to us. The average number of votes it took to triumph in a 2014 Senate election was 134. This means that, as in high school, candidates do not need to look far beyond their immediate circle of Facebook friends to take office. To use the extreme case, a senator can run unopposed and garner one vote to represent an entire college. While we are sure many self-declared senators would be decent human beings and competent legislators, we would not make that bet in every case. These senators would be representative of no one but themselves.

That is why, as a service to readers of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE, we are updating our style guide to include the following stipulation: When an elected member of student government is referenced in our pages, we will include in parentheses behind their name the college they represent and the number of votes cast in their favor (e.g. Sen. Greg Sullivan [Franklin, 192]). We will not weight the vote count for the enrollment of the college, an undeniably important factor that readers must take into account. Still, we believe that making this information known will provide students with eye-opening perspective about an institution that does not, at present, represent them well.

Below is a list of all the SGA senators elected in spring of 2014 in the new style.

—The Editors (John Henry, Blake, Elizabeth, Davis & Connor)

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Master of the Senate—>

Sen. Greg Sullivan (Franklin, 192)

Honorable Mention—>

Sen. Ashley Casey (Franklin, 191)

Sen. Kip O’Kelley (Franklin, 189)

Sen. Nate Buda (Franklin, 186)

Sen. Tifara Brown (Franklin, 186)

Sen. Elizabeth Carter (Franklin, 184)

Sen. Jack Owen (Franklin, 180)

Sen. Austin Edquist (Franklin, 178)

Sen. Jake Carnes (Franklin, 177)

Sen. Samantha Cleare (Franklin, 173)

Sen. Morgan Beavers (Franklin, 158)

Sen. Thomas Sumner (Franklin, 156)

Sen. Robina Gallagher (Franklin, 153)

Sen. Sam Street (Franklin, 151)

Sen. Ansur Ahmed (Franklin, 148)

Sen. Jeremy Gibson (Franklin, 145)

Sen. Will Heaton (Terry, 145)

Sen. Elizabeth Harrell (Terry, 128)

Sen. Johnelle Simpson (Terry, 122)

Sen. Madison Turner (SPIA, 119)

Sen. Andrew Roberts (SPIA, 106)

Sen. Erin Deitrich (Law, 76)

Sen. Shiv Patel (Grady, 69)

Sen. Virginia Walker (FCS, 59)

Sen. Abbey Meller (Public Health, 41)

Sen. Chloe Weigle (Environment+Design, 2)

Sen. Alison McWhorter Anderson (Odum, 1)

(No candidates filed for election from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, the Warnell School, the Graduate School, the School of Pharmacy, the School of Social Work, or the School of Veterinary Medicine. SGA senators for these schools will be filled by the college, usually through an application process. Unelected senators will be designated as such in the new style.)