Few students vote in MCSG election

By Matt Won

Low turnout and uncontested seats marked the Macalester College Student Government’s (MCSG) special elections last Thursday to fill Legislative Body (LB) vacancies and elect a Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) chair, as the LB considers drastic changes in its system of representation.

The FAC Chair, an Executive Board position, went uncontested, as did many other positions. The Election Planning Committee had hoped to spur more candidates by waiving the requirement that potential candidates collect signatures of 15% of their constituency to get on the ballot.

“[Turnout] wasn’t very big, which makes sense because it’s a special election in the middle of the year,” said Turck-Doty LB Representative Franz Meyer ’09. Vacancies sometimes open due to Representatives studying abroad.

“Initially every position was contested. When the election was originally called it was worth having,” MCSG Vice President Jess Hasken ’07 said. Candidates are permitted to withdraw up to two days before an election, and many did. “What looked like it was going to be a contest ended up not being one,” Hasken said.

There were no candidates for the open Transfer Representative seat. With no candidates in the race for the Humanities seat, two voters wrote themselves in. Neither situation has been resolved yet.

“[The uncontested positions were] the worst part,” Meyer said.

Meyer, along with Wallace/30 Mac/Bigelow Representative Galen Baynes ’08, helped run the election as part of the Election Planning Committee. “Half the voters could only vote for the FAC Chair anyway,” Meyer said.

Last week the LB heard a resolution at its weekly meeting in favor of ending representation by academic major and switching to a system that would give each class five Representatives. The size of the LB would also increase to 20 members from its current 18. First years would have five Representatives distributed between the dorms. “Members of the same class, more so than Humanities majors, have the same sort of experience,” Hasken said.

The resolution, co-written by President Ben Johnson ’06, Hasken, Student Services Committee Chair Sheena Paul ’07, and Program Board Chair Will Clarke ’07, will be up for a vote next week.

It would be only the latest in a string of changes in LB representation. Last year the LB shrank significantly due to sporadic attendance and a perceived lack of accountability.

“You’d go to meetings where there would be 10 people showing up. This year we have an attendance policy and we rarely have more than one or two absences,” Hasken said. “Until study abroad, we’ve also retained a much higher percentage of LB representatives.”