SA needs better strategy

The Student Association Senate elections last Wednesday and Thursday turned out to be an exercise in futility.

Now, The Northern Star is being blamed for a lack of voter awareness and student apathy. Due to an unpaid, 90 day past due account balance with the Star’s advertising office, the SA recently was refused advertising space. Although there might have been some confusion about the overdue bill, the SA was refused the advertising space about 10 days prior to the senate elections. Ample time was allowed to correct the situation before something like this happened. Our business operations are followed closely by the SA, so no justifiable excuse exists for them to say that they were treated unfairly.

The confusion being voiced by some members of the SA is one they brought upon themselves. We as a business are not responsible for making sure bills are paid. However, if bills remain unpaid, we have the authority to exercise our rights in denying further space until the account is settled. If a person has a car payment due, the bank doesn’t call and say, “Miss Jones, this is Sally from the bank. How are you today? I just wanted to call you and remind you that your loan payment is due. Can you please mail it soon?”

SA Vice President Steve Coloia was quoted as saying the “Star is our main way to the mass. We had to advertise by word of mouth” since they were refused advertising in the Star.

Mr. Coloia is correct in the assumption that the Star might be the SA’s only way to the mass. We as a newspaper try our best to keep the students, administrators, faculty and employees of this university informed. Keeping people informed is the duty of the press. On those lines, we feel our coverage of the election was efficient and substantive.

We informed the university population of the voting districts, the candidates, the polling places and the prerequisites needed to cast a student vote. We even tried to encourage students to vote for write-in candidates when an insufficient number of senate petitions were turned in. Does the SA feel we should have done more for them?

Any “politician” knows that campaigning for office is hard work. Hours need to be spent in planning a campaign strategy, deciding who your constituents are, getting the word out and pounding the pavement. A local newspaper cannot do this for the politician.

Another question is why a large-scale public relations campaign was not conducted by the SA. Where were the voter awareness rallies, the posters, the fliers, the speakers, etc.? One SA representative said such a plan was in the works. But, when it came to implementation time, nothing happened. Also, maybe it would have been a wise move to allow the candidates more time in which to campaign. Apathy is not easily solved, but if the student body would have been exposed to a large amount of pre-election hype, maybe the turnout at the polls would have been better.

Although the SA has been busy making statements about the changes proposed by Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves, it is very difficult to surmise what the leaders of the SA were doing for the last couple of weeks to ensure a successful election. The track record of the past SA elections has not been a good one, and more insight should have been used to make sure this one was successful.

We hope this lack of organization does not continue. Granted, the SA has not had much time to deal with its problems; however, student government should not rest—which raises another question of when anything will start to get done. As students, we are ENTITLED to an effective student government. Otherwise, the mere existence of such a non-functioning body should be re-evaluated.