Thirty-nine candidates ran for student senate election this year. After the votes were tallied, it was announced that all of the candidates would be joining the senate for 2016-17, with five additional, unfilled seats.

Though we want to congratulate all the senators who successfully campaigned, we also want to encourage students who did not participate in the student senate election process to stay informed and engaged with student government at Grand Valley State University and even consider joining student senate yourself.

Student senate has a broad role in the day-to-day life of a student and can have a serious impact when it comes to student organizations. Whether a student is a member of a student organization or an elected board member, they will have to deal with student senate at some point during their membership. Staying informed about what student senate does is crucial for all student organizations.

Though the data is unavailable for 2015, the voter turnout for student senate elections is typically abysmally low. In 2014, 12.26 percent of students voted. In 2013, only 6.49 percent of Lakers voiced their opinions about who should serve as representatives of the student body.

In addition to staying informed and voting, we would like to encourage more students to run for student senate. With five extra seats to fill, there’s more opportunity here to make change at the university. If you have a change you’d like to see, or if you enjoy making the university a better place for students, joining student senate is a great option.

Since student senate has such a large responsibility to the GVSU community, a certain sense of competition could be beneficial to the election process. The body that represents the students should reflect the diversity of the campus, and getting more students to run for a seat on senate would do just that. Competition is necessary for democracy; we need people on the student senate to be representative of the student body, not necessarily a group of people who were elected by default because they were the only people who ran.

GVSU has over 400 student organizations on campus, that’s over 400 student organization members with passion and leadership capabilities. The student senate needs passionate people to come represent the concerns of these organizations.

If you want your voice to be heard or want to represent voices that deserve to be heard, student senate is an excellent way to accomplish this. It doesn’t matter what your major is, what clubs you belong to or what your interests are. As a student at GVSU, your opinion matters. Having students participate in student government is crucial to making sure their interests are served.

Though the vast majority of Lakers don’t concern themselves with the goings on of student senate, it’s time that changes, especially in regard to the selection of senators. The bar for being on student senate should not be as low as simply filling out the application—senators should have to compete for their spots and actually earn the trust of their constituents, just like any other elected official.