Thursday’s voter turnout at the student elections yielded impressive results: nearly 33 percent of Kalamazoo College students cast a ballot for their preferred representative. While the national average of student participation in campus elections typically wanes between 5 and 10 percent, K’s student body proved to be actively engaged in their student government this year.
K’s online ballot is a relatively new system, and its relative ease of accessibility may have been what yielded such a large quantity of student voters. In an almost ironic sense, though, it was the same system that had initially jeopardized the elections. After an internal malfunction with the online application form, it was noted that not all candidates who applied were being displayed on the ballot.
It was in the pursuit of equal representation in the ballot that the elections were postponed until Thursday of fourth week, while they have been traditionally held in third week. Brian Dietz elaborated on the issue, noting that “Essentially it was a fairness issue, and elections were postponed to ensure all students who had planned to run for elections were indeed on the ballot.”
After a shaky start to the elections process, the elected representatives officially met for the first time over the past weekend for retreats. All members of the Student Funding Board (SFB) and the Kalamazoo College Council of Student Representatives (KCCSR) were trained and informed in an attempt to to equip them to take on the responsibility of their respective roles in campus life.
Representatives for KCCSR and SFB worked separately in establishing bylaws for their respective organization in order to inaugurate an effective rhythm and structure that will serve them not only this year, but in years to come as well. It was not all work, however, as with frequent icebreakers and team bonding activities this weekend’s retreat served also to build unity and community in the pursuit of establishing an effective structure for to foster positive change within the campus community.
Both elected bodies expressed the hope that the Kalamazoo College student body will take the time to meet their representatives and join them in meetings. The representatives hold key student leadership positions at the college, where they sit on college, trustee, and faculty committees, and are involved in discussions related to important policies and initiatives on a variety of issues ranging from health and safety issues, to experiential education initiatives, and much more.
Students serving on these committees have the opportunity to bring student perspectives to important discussions, and they are able to share information back with their constituents, the student body. The members of the Student Funding Board allocate funding to registered student organizations and have a key role in ensuring the Student Activities Fee all students pay is used to effectively and responsibly fund student priorities.
Both boards are designed to address student concerns, and leadership from the groups encourage students to stay knowledgeable and informed about current happenings. SFB and KCCSR have open meetings, and Associate Dean of Students Brian Dietz encourages “all students to attend at least one meeting this year.” For all those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, SFB meets Sundays at 7 p.m. in Hicks Student Center, and KCCSR meets on Mondays at 9 p.m. in Hicks Student Center.