New location, old woes for ASU

Candidates-elect get ready for the transition.

By Solomon Smith, Staff Writer

The ASU election results are in, and its new members are poised to take their positions. The new leadership begin training for their offices by shadowing incumbents on daily tasks; most incumbents are leaving their positions and offices to new staff. However, with a dismally low turnout, troubled elections and difficulty filling seats on its council, the Associated Student Union moves into a new year with old troubles.

The voting student body turnout was low—only 605 total votes were cast, less than 3.18 percent of the estimated 19,000 students on campus. Students voted for seven of 15 council positions up for grabs, leaving the remaining eight open until they are appointed next year. The low numbers are well below the national average of 56 percent for turnout in the presidential election.

Candidate behavior has been a part of the problem with the student council. The Voting Boards disciplined several candidates and disqualified one this term. Students were warned several times about following the rules for campaigning on campus and were placed on probation, according to the President of the Election Committee, Saleem Moinuddin.

According to Moinuddin, information regarding the disciplinary actions cannot be divulged until 10 days after the close of the voting period to protect the privacy of the students involved. The voting council tallies the votes and vets the candidates, and very little information gets out to the public, leaving voters uninformed about candidates or the process. Student disinterest and lack of involvement makes it difficult to fill positions, Moinuddin said.

“At the end of the day, we got as many people as we could [to run],” Moinuddin said. “We went to classes, we did everything, but at the end of the day, it comes down to whether or not people want to run for ASU.”

Moinuddin and his fellow council members have been working hard on keeping the ASU going, but it has proved difficult without a complete council. Members Daniel Robaso and Mario Zelaya eased the burden of missing council members by picking up slack when needed. To this end, Robaso—who served as interim vice president—participated in four different clubs. The Inter-Club Council meetings, a responsibility of ASU, do not always have the requisite members and lack of respect for the council has been noticed. Robaso ran for president and later removed himself from the race. He worries about the experience of the next group of leaders, the majority of who do not participate in clubs on campus.

“I’m here almost five hours a day,” Robaso said. “I don’t see anyone else doing that right now that won an office seat.”

Many key officers did not show or did not stay long for yesterday’s new councilor training, and Robaso worries that will make their new jobs difficult for them. He is hopeful that things will improve for the new leadership. Many of the out-going council members keep in contact with their replacements and offer help and advice. An influx of funds is headed to the ASU, which adds to what clubs can do.

“I would like to be optimistic,” Robaso said. “We started with $11,000 to spend on clubs, but now we have three times that. Hopefully clubs are much more efficient and they’re able to have many more events on campus, and in some sense I hope that will help ASU.”

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