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Every semester the University of Colorado Student Union, CU’s student government, holds elections to determine who CU’s next student leaders will be. Controlling over $30 million dollars in student fees, UCSU is the most powerful student union in the nation. They fund and control 12 student cost centers, the largest of which are the UMC, Wardenburg and the Rec Center, and they form and debate policy that guides the campus and its students.
Despite the influence the elected members possess, it is rare for more than 20 percent of CU’s large student population, numbering near 30,000, to vote in the spring election. Fewer than 10 percent of students have historically participated in the fall elections. Two years ago, the number of students voting dipped below 1,000.
The Campus Press will break down the positions, the process and the people in an 11-part series that will run through April 20, the last day of voting. Stay with The Campus Press during this time for developments and results regarding the 2007 UCSU elections.
Students are left wondering after every University of Colorado Student Union election if the winners will truly represent their interests.
During the past five years (and continuing with this year’s candidates), there have been some startling similarities between the winning tickets.
UCSU Elections 2007: CP’s 11-day Series
Part 1 | Rules of the race – The ins and outs of CU’s election code
Part 2 | Taking office – The elected officials and what they do
Part 3 | Repeat runners – What they’ve accomplished, why they’re back
Part 4 | An apathetic audience – What UCSU is doing to make you care
Part 5 | Showing support – A look at CU’s student groups and the candidates they endorse
Part 6 | The candidates – An in-depth look at the election hopefuls
Part 7 | The voters – Students who vote, and why they care
Part 8 | Voting trends – A look at the winning tickets of the past, and the stronghold of the campaigners
Part 9 | $30 million strong – An analysis of UCSU and how it differs from other student governments in the region
Part 10 | Autonomy – A look at the 1985 agreement that gave UCSU its power today
Part 11 | The campaign trail – Candidate experiences from the 2007 campaigning process
Every winning ticket for the Tri-executive position has featured two male students and one female student. There is a fair mix of diversity in each ticket, and each member has several unique qualities to attract all types of students. The more involved on campus a ticket’s members are, the more likely they are to attract a larger number of voters.
“If I know someone and think they’re a good person and know that they hold the same ideals as me, of course I’m going to vote for them,” said Jess Wagner, a junior psychology major. “It makes deciding who to vote for a lot easier.”
Greek affiliations can also work to the advantage of the running tickets. For the past five years, at least one of the Tri-exec candidates has been affiliated with a fraternity or sorority on campus, and in several cases, two ticket members have Greek ties.
This year, the Value ticket Tri-executives are all in the Greek system. Unity also has members involved in the Greek system.
The winning tickets normally have previous UCSU involvement and experience. This can range from legislative council to Tri-executive staff positions to memberships on the various UCSU boards.
This year, both the Unity and Value tickets boast impressive resumes. Two of the tri-exec candidates serve on UCSU, and the third is on the Pan-Hellenic Executive Council. The Value ticket has two candidates that are a part of the Leeds School of Business government and one who is a representative on UCSU Legislative Council.
“I’m more likely to vote for someone who has leadership and UCSU experience,” said Sean Forrester, a sophomore integrative physiology major. “I feel that experience is key. They already know the ins and outs of the student government and can spend more time making the university a better place (rather) than trying to learn the ropes.”
Each of the winning tickets in the past years has focused their campaigns on many of the same areas. Similar promises are continually made to students. A continuing trend promises to fight to keep tuition low and improve diversity on campus.
“I find it troubling that the same things are promised every year,” said Corinne Kindoll, a sophomore anthropology major. “If they’re promising the same things every time, it means that the previous winners aren’t following through with their goals. Maybe we should be taking a harder look at that.”
Both Unity and Value promise to lobby for lower tuition and greater diversity, although their plans of action vary slightly. Both hope to continue with the Blue Ribbon commission and keep student fees low.
Students will have to wait and see the outcome for this year’s elections to see how it will fit into previous traditions.
Wednesday: How does UCSU stack up to neighboring schools and their student governments? A comparison.