Next Monday, the Butler University student body will vote for a new Student Government Association president.
Whoever it picks will be in charge of representing student interests and close to three quarters of a million dollars.
The members of SGA hope this year’s election has a better turnout than previous years, said Abigail Springer, a member of the Election Oversight Committee.
“Our goal is to keep as many people as informed as possible,” she said.
Less than 1,000 people voted in last year’s election, Springer said. She said she hopes as many people as possible will research candidates and vote this year. The link will be delivered in an email Monday morning.
“The SGA president is very much your advocate, so you want to make sure it’s someone you agree with,” said SGA President Mike Keller.
The election kicked off on Friday with the Social Media Blitz, during which the candidates – (Craig Fisher, Josh Grant and Katie Palmer) — were allowed to officially begin their campaigns. Each candidate received $150 in campaign funds.
On Tuesday, the candidates participated in an informal meet-and-greet at Starbucks. Tonight, they will face off in a debate in the Reilly Room moderated by Levester Johnson, vice president of student affairs, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Candidates will answer questions from Johnson and students. Students can submit their questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidates will discuss big-picture ideas, Keller said. Most will be about the university as a whole and major changes the candidates wish to make.
SGA recently voted to shorten the time of campaigning from two weeks to 10 days, which will help keep students’ attention span, Springer said.
“The idea is to hit people with more information more quickly,” she said. “It doesn’t give people time to forget.”
For the past three years, candidates have been sophomores, but this year, all candidates are juniors. There are also a smaller number of candidates, and both Palmer and Grant ran last year.
“Things will go a bit more smoothly and predictably this time,” Keller said.
Amendments to the SGA constitution have resulted in a few other rule changes. For example, a candidate can no longer run for multiple offices anymore.
“We’ve been very clear with our expectations,” Springer said.
Candidates are not allowed to post links to their voting webpages or campaign within 15 to 20 feet of a computer lab, Springer said. They have to list all of their campaign workers and cannot be endorsed by a student-led club.
“A lot of the time, infractions come from people who think they’re helping candidates,” she said. “We’re relying on the integrity of the candidates to prevail.”
Throughout the week, candidates are introducing themselves and their ideas to the student body.
Craig Fisher, a pharmacy major, currently serves as the SGA parliamentarian. Fisher is from Indianapolis and the son of two Butler alumni.
“I’ve been going to Butler basketball games since before I could walk,” he said.
Fisher’s platform has five main points. One of his points is enhancing the SGA Public Relations board. Fisher also wants to raise the budget for specific student organization grants without raising the student activity fee.
He said he also wants students represented when discussing tough issues such as alcohol with faculty.
Fisher plans to create live online budget updates and recordings of assemblies. Finally, Fisher said he hopes to engage more Butler students in conversations about growth and development.
“We have to make sure we’re not taking away from why people came to Butler,” Fisher said.
Josh Grant ran last year. He is a junior from Park Ridge, Ill. He serves as Sigma Chi’s representative in SGA.
Grant said he believes his inexperience will bring new ideas to the assembly.
One of his goals is to change the alcohol policy so people are not hesitant to call BUPD for help.
Grant also wants to combine the REACH and program boards and make Independent Council a separate board.
“The goal is to bring independents on the same level as Greeks and to foster discussion,” he said.
Grant said he wants to create a discussion-based student senate.
Long-term, Grant said he wants a sense of community that creates a network of alumni to help students.
Katie Palmer is an international studies and Spanish major from Munster, Ind.
In the last 22 years, Butler has had five female SGA Presidents. Butler should have a leader that represents about 60 percent of the population, Palmer said.
“It would be an absolute honor to be president,” she said.
This is the second time Palmer has run for president as well.
“Butler could benefit from an SGA president who’s knowledgeable about campus,” she said.
One of her goals is to create more transparency in SGA. She wants to utilize the website to create graphics for students to understand budgets and other happenings.
Palmer also wants to improve communication between SGA boards as well as SGA and students.
“I want to meet with as many student groups as possible,” she said.
Her good relationship with independent and Greek students will help her lead SGA, she said.
Keller advises the candidates to stay positive and avoid putting down other candidates.
“People want to hear what you can do differently,” he said. “Make sure it’s all about ideas.”