The theme for this year’s council is “students serving students,” said Executive Vice President Dan Clark. However, how can the ASEWU serve the students if they don’t even know about them? With a pitiful eight percent turnout for the winter elections, the message is clear. Students either don’t know or don’t care about the ASEWU.
The low voter turnout caused the failure of three different constitutional referendums this year. The council wanted to raise the amount of hours each member is required to work, lower the salaries for the ASEWU, and move elections to the Spring Quarter.
Moving elections was the biggest referendum on the ballot. Many students aren’t given enough time to actually get to know about the elections or the candidates. There is a two-week period where the candidates are allowed to campaign and that’s it.
Students who do vote try to do some research. Freshman Thomas Brown said, “I didn’t pick the best name. I actually sat down and read the thing that they give you when you go to vote. One of the votes I made because I knew the person.”
Most Eastern students don’t research. They choose to either ignore the elections or vote blindly. If they do vote, students just fill in random circles or play connect the dots.
“The way elections are done is not in the best interest of the students,” said Chris Schwartzenberger, Athletic Affairs. He believes a change in the structure and timing of the elections will only help students. For example, he would like the elections to be held in the spring.
Chantel Wilde, Public Relations for the ASEWU, feels that moving elections to the spring would allow students to be more familiar with the council.
However, students are barely familiar with the ASEWU now. Moving elections won’t help to inform students and make them more familiar with the council. “They need to get out there more and actually talk to the student body,” said Junior Shannon Yellin.
Schwartzenberger agrees and says the key is to “mingle with people.” The council needs to put themselves out there for the students. If this happens, the members can “bounce ideas off people.” By doing this, the council would learn what the students want and need.
Executive Vice President Dan Clark is taking a different approach. He is using a system called “VIA.” Clark wants the council to be “visible, interactive, and accessible” to students.
He also plans to work closely with the Easterner and other media outlets. “I have learned that students want to be informed and need to be informed,” said Clark.
The Student Information Center was created to help keep students informed. The center brings every program on campus to one central location where students can go to get answers. It also provides other information about upcoming events and extracurricular activities.
The project was put together by Chantel Wilde. Wilde doesn’t have the ability to get out and meet the students because of her position on the council. “That is why I took on the information center,” says Wilde. “Because they (students) are paying for my salary, I felt that they (students) should directly see what I am doing and what I’m working on.”
However, sometimes even with all the information in front of them, students don’t bother to care. Wilde tries to keep students informed. She puts up posters and signs everywhere. She also talks with the Easterner constantly to make sure the council meetings are covered.
Wilde points out that even with all the information in front of them students “chose not to retain it, or they choose not to see it. They just basically are not interested.”