Student government associations struggle with apathy from students

Illustration+by+Issabelle+Vu

Illustration by Issabelle Vu

Jacqueline Galli, Sports Editor

Nearly one-third of all SGA senate positions are sitting unfilled more than halfway through the school year.

The vacancies, taken with sluggish voter turnout, show the challenges facing SGA engaging the student body, even while increasing student participation across campus was one of the focal points of the current administration.

Participation in student government for college campuses is a challenge that American Student Government Association Director and Founder, Butch Oxendine, said is an issue across the country. Oxendine said Loyola is no different.

Despite attempts to promote student involvement, Loyola’s Student Government Association is still seeking to fill numerous positions and promote student participation, according to Robert Morrison III, SGA Chief of Staff.

Out of the 38 positions in the senate, 11 have yet to be filled, according to Robert Morrison. Senators are responsible for creating bills and representing the student body.

Morrison also reported that about 250 students voted in last semester’s election, yet there are over 3,000 undergraduate students according to Loyola’s website. These numbers may sound low, but Oxendine said that is standard for most private universities across the country.

Oxendine said voter participation amongst private universities in elections range on average from 10-15%, according to research gathered by the ASGA. Based on the estimates given by Morrison, only 8% of students voted in elections, 20-47% lower than the national average.

Morrison said part of the problem last semester with voter participation stemmed from few students actually being on campus. He said pre-pandemic voter turnout usually fell around 300 to 400 students, which would mean a percentage closer to 13% for voter turnout. As more students return to campus, Morrison said he expects that will help participation in the next election.

“Turnout indicates respect for student government,” Oxendine said.

Oxendine recommends increasing the presence of SGA members across campus, which he said is a great way to increase voter turnout and balanced involvement. Oxendine said that means things like having senators shadow club meetings on campus, and consistently polling student sentiment.

To combat the issues for voter turnout, Morrison said the future commissioner of elections, a position that is currently unfilled, in the student government will be responsible for brainstorming solutions. Those elections occur in the spring every year, and the student government is currently sorting through applications, according to Morrison.

“We are definitely looking to see how we can get more people involved, and how we can make our elections more appealing to more students, so they can be a little bit more involved in our process,” said Morrison.

Students who have any questions for Loyola’s Student Government Association can reach out through the association’s instagram, @loyno_sga. Students seeking to apply for vacant positions can check the Linktree in their bio.