Your voice, your choice

The Student Senate at Grand Valley State University is easily the most important student organization on campus.

Not does the Student Senate serve as a direct link for students to voice their concerns or opinions to the administration at GVSU, it also allocates more than $1 million each year to the university’s vast number of registered student organizations and approves RSO requests for money from the Reserve Fund.

Student Senate also co-sponsors annual events like President’s Ball and the Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition.

You’d think that there would be a higher voter turnout for an organization whose affect on student life at GVSU is far-reaching and whose voice is supposed to reflect that of the student population that put it in power, but for all of the power that these senators wield, only 8 to 9 percent of the student body, about 2,000 students, actively take part in the annual elections that give potential candidates the opportunity to make a difference on campus. In another unfortunate statistic, only 40 to 50 students campaign each year for the 44 open Senate spots.

Perhaps the problem in past years is that some students were not made aware that the elections were occurring (this year’s slate of elections will begin on March 27 and end on April 2), or perhaps some students didn’t want to take the time to come out to the ballot box (although all voting is done online under the elections tab at

Maybe other students have been discouraged from voting because they are not aware of the platforms or beliefs of the people running for election. To help remedy that concern, the Student Senate will run a special section in the Lanthorn that will help familiarize students with each of the candidates.

But the most concerning is the notion that students haven’t voted just because they haven’t cared enough to. The Student Senate has the desire and ability to make effective change on campus, and the person who makes any sort of complaint about life at GVSU while having sat on the sidelines instead of taking an active role in choosing the people who can initiate change should take some time to re-evaluate his or her way of thinking.

Voting is more than just the civic responsibility Haas described in his email to students this week. As GVSU students, this is our campus, and that makes us just as accountable for the state of the university as the administration and other decision makers. Collectively, we have a voice, and electing a representative Student Senate is our way to amplify that voice and give it direction.

When this year’s slate of elections roll around on March 27, will you be able to say that you took the opportunity to help put leaders in place at GVSU?