Nominations and Elections Committee | Taking charge

Guest Column | The democratic process begins at the collegiate level

· February 24, 2013, 11:32 pm

Share This

You would be hard-pressed to find a student on this University’s campus who was unaware of this year’s national elections.

With advertisements implying we, the United States’ constituents, possess the power to elect “leaders of the free world,” many were pulled in by the allure of such a glamorous opportunity.

The power and prestige of elected office, along with the capacity to create tangible change for their constituents, attract hundreds of candidates each cycle along with thousands of voters.

When it comes to student government on Penn’s campus, however, that same fervor is not shared by the masses, both in regard to applicant pool and voter turnout. But why?

The Undergraduate Assembly and the class boards, Penn Student Government’s elected branches, provide every student on Penn’s campus with a voice and the opportunity to get involved. Similarly, the ability to vote in student government elections provides students with the opportunity to choose the individuals who will advocate on their behalf and represent causes.

As the representative body of Penn’s four undergraduate schools, the UA is responsible for bringing our concerns and interests to the forefront of the administration’s agenda while providing students with the resources necessary to partake in campus life to the fullest extent.

Members of the UA have the power to allocate a budget of about two million dollars, money earmarked from our general fees, to various student organizations across Penn’s campus. They also join committees that range from Academic Affairs to Dining, Sustainability and Facilities.

Class boards build unity among classes through various events thrown throughout the academic year. Repeatedly, students identify class board-sponsored events as among their most memorable college experiences. From the freshman class Econ Scream to the sophomore and junior class-sponsored Skimmer Fest to the senior class Feb Club, class board events represent our classes to the Penn community and those outside of it.

If you enjoyed one of these events in the past and would be excited to contribute to one in the future, check out the opportunities to run for class board. If you want to ensure these events will be successful, read the elections coverage prior to voting so that you can make a difference in the experience of every member of your class through informed and educated voting.

Running for elected office can be daunting but extremely rewarding. Meeting your class and sharing your ideas is an exciting way to test the waters of public service within the safe environment of the University. Responding to the critiques of your peers and learning about the varying needs of your constituents prepares you for leadership in any field. Voting for elected officials is reflective of our civic responsibility to be engaged participants in any society in which we are involved.

As proud members of PSG, we cannot think of a more effective way to make a difference in the Penn community and beyond. If you’re interested, check out the NEC’s website and read through the candidate’s packet to get a sense of the process. If you have any questions, reach out to us at elections@penn-nec.org.

Whether you choose to run or not, the democratic process — even at the student level — is an essential part of every person’s experience. Think carefully about the candidates for whom you will vote. Contemplate your options for endorsing candidates and adding your voice to the many that make a difference in the process. Be involved in whatever way you can and actively participate in University life, whether that be as a candidate or as a voter.

The NEC is one of Penn Student Government’s six branches. It is dedicated to organizing PSG elections, nominating representatives to University Committees and educating the student body about the work of PSG as a whole. You can contact the NEC at elections@penn-nec.org.

Comments powered by Disqus