Student Senate Election Begins March 30th

Hailey Griffin, Arts Editor

Despite the closing of all Madison College campuses, the Student Senate Election will still take place. The election process is set to begin on March 30 via student email. Ballots will be sent out to students’ emails on the morning of March 30 and will close at noon on April 3.

 Students can also participate in the write-in candidate process, in which voters write the name of the student that they think would be a good candidate on their ballot. The winners of the election will likely be announced on Monday, April 6, via email and social media.

According to Ellie Rome, Student Senate Advisor, “anyone who is eligible to vote will automatically get the email telling them to go and vote. Then they’ll see all the candidates, which will include a link to a candidate profile.”

Candidate profiles will be located in the same section, as well as on the Student Senate website at https://www.madisoncollegesenate.org/.

So, who is eligible to vote? Any student who is taking degree credit classes in a certificate or diploma program may vote. On the other hand, to become an eligible candidate, you must also be taking at least six credits in degree credit classes and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.

Because of the campus-wide shut-down, candidates will lose the ability to conduct in-person campaigns. However, candidates can still campaign via various social media networks, WolfPack Connect, or various friends who are also Madison College students.

According to Rome, “there are slightly more candidates running this semester than there were a year ago. …As for voters, our voter participation typically has not been very high. That’s very common across the U.S for community college student government elections.”

Usually, voter participation includes 3 percent or less of the student body. When asked why voter participation was so low, Rome stated, “I think the main reason is that, especially for community college students, it’s easier to disengage from out of the classroom events. A lot of people have a billion things going on in their lives.”

Madison seats on the Student Senate are open to students at the Truax, Goodman South, Commercial, and West campuses. In addition, there are five seats for the college’s four regional campuses – Reedsburg, Watertown, Fort Atkinson and Portage.

Of course, there is also the position of Student Senate president. For the first time in three years, there are two candidates for the presidential position: Sean Green and Connor Jacobson.

Along with the Student Senate president, 19 senators are elected as well. Out of the 19 senators, four officers are elected. According to Rome, the four different officer roles include “public relations, team development, legislative affairs, and administration and finance. They each oversee different parts of the senate to make sure that things run, and then they run subcommittees of the senate.”

The role of the senators, however, is to represent the student body. Rome states that “they sit on different committees in the college, or within the senate. They’re on shared governance counsels, and they’re supposed to be out there gathering feedback and insight about what is important to the students.”

After being elected, presidents, senators, and officers must undergo a training and orientation process. Before the candidates are sworn into office on May 7, they participate in a three-hour, in-person training and team building session at the end of April. After they’re sworn in, student senate members remain a part of the student senate until the first week in May the following year.

The student senate also meets every other week during the summer to participate in more team building and training. This year, the Student Senate will have to find a way to switch meetings to an online format.

Regarding online meetings, Rome said, “I hope that we’re still able to create community and bonding even though we might be restricted to online. We’re adaptable, and we’re in Student Life making a lot of tentative plans that make sure we provide the same engagement and community and experience for students, even if we might not be able to see each other in person.”

Rome anticipates that the Student Senate meetings will incorporate WebEx and perhaps Zoom, a couple of video conferencing applications.

At this point in time, the Student Senate is working on issues that deal with housing accessibility (access to affordable housing and housing resources for students) and digital equity (student access to digital devices, software, and internet).

“I think we will see, this semester, just how much digital equity is important to students,” Rome noted.