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ISSUE 117 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/12/2004

Student Turnout Shows Promise

By Nicole Grunzke
Executive Editor


Friday, March 12, 2004

The annual SGA Elections at St. Olaf pass by every year with little more than a second thought by most students. Candidates surface from the small contingency of students involved in SGA, put up a few posters and halfheartedly hope that the majority of the student body will voice its opinion by filling out a ballot. This is exactly what happened last week, much to the delight and surprise of these few candidates. In the highly contested SGA executive elections, 1,476 St. Olaf students turned out in rare form, representing just over 51 percent of the student body.

What drew students to the polls? The St. Olaf community was energized by the excitement of two intensely run campaigns, a general dissatisfaction with the current SGA and the conveniently located ballots tables en route to the caf. Seth Heringer 05 and Janine Wetzel 05 were victorious, claiming SGA president/vice-president for the 2004-2005 school year. However, many students were unaware of candidate violations. Bylaw infractions by both tickets occurred throughout the election process with the Election Commission doling out punishments as its members saw fit. Plagued with vague wording of the regulations, which are now thankfully under revision, the elections opposing parties were both under intense scrutiny. Specifically, the Heringer/Wetzel group handed out fliers without their names written on them in an attempt to refute the assertion of Peter Arnold 05 and Peder Hertsgaard 05 that Senate had not done anything substantive this year. These Myth/Fact fliers found their way into many students hands, despite not meeting requirements laid out in the SGA bylaws stating that all promotional paraphernalia bear the name of its sponsors. Arnold and Hertsgaard maintain that the elections were unfair as Heringer/Wetzel were not disqualified for this infraction. The Commission ordered Herringer and Wetzel to formally apologize to Arnold and Hertsgaard for their infractions, and display an apology on their website as well. The majority of the student body had no knowledge of the infraction or the apology. Would making it public have changed the decisions made? The question remains, but we should not split hairs over small infractions.

The positive aspects of the campaign are the real news here. Active, positive campaigning by both candidate pairs was the standard set for the entire week. Orange vests and spirited ball fights outside amongst the Peter/Peder campaign encouraged students to vote on Election Day. Heringer and Wetzels campaign bid included hot cocoa, fliers touting SGAs triumphs of the year and vibrant signage around campus. The excitement of the election should invigorate Senators and encourage them to plan for the rest of the year. Now that the election is over, it is their duty to identify their goals and begin achieving them. This election highlighted creative campaigning, involvement from students not usually visible at Senate meetings and the need for candidates to have a valid, well-thought out platform on student issues. In order to make St. Olaf an institution where Senate is respected, real changes must be brought forth, discussed and enacted on behalf of the student body. Senators have a responsibility to publicize the issues and students have a responsibility to respond.





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