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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Some college specific senate seats may remain empty

Last year, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona worked together to restructure the senate to encourage students to get involved and have a voice for their specific colleges.

The current senate structure is composed of 10 at-large senate seats, which any UA student can run for. With the recent ASUA elections, that’s about to change.

With the senate’s restructuring, each of the academic and graduate colleges would be represented with one senator from each college and three additional at-large senators.

Isaac Ortega, ASUA student body president for the 2014-2015 academic year, graduated in May 2015 and spearheaded the senate’s restructuring.

“It was something we talked about in ASUA for a very long time and the whole thought behind it was 10 student senators alone couldn’t represent the 43,000 students that we have now,” Ortega said.

He said he hopes to have a greater voter turnout with students getting excited about other students running to represent their colleges.

“Increasing the amount of senators would reflect the amount of representation for students. The number one goal was to get more students involved in running and feeling like they are represented in the senate structure,” Ortega said. “Encouraging students to run for their college rather than an at-large seat is important because it lets every college have an advocate.”

Diego Alvarez, current ASUA elections commissioner, said it was time to switch up the dynamic of the senate structure to increase the senate’s accessibility and accountability of representation.

Alvarez said the restructuring has affected him tremendously throughout the elections and he discussed how things would work out logistically.

“I and this year’s executive team had to address the implications of what this would do,” Alvarez said.

According to Alvarez, he and his team have had to address the candidacy. Only students from that college may run. Signature requirements for those running to represent their colleges and voting requirements may only include those who are within that specific college.

In short, the votes counted for college-specific candidates are strictly from individuals within that college.

In this year’s ASUA elections, only students from six colleges are moving on to the general elections as a college-specific senator. Alvarez said there will be a special election in the case of vacancies of college-specific seats.

When a special election is held to fill the vacancies of the college senate, Alvarez explained that those open seats would then become at-large senate positions.

“At that point, the colleges have given up their right to a representative as nobody ran, expressed interest or did a write in,” Alvarez said. “However, in theory, to get a representative, it would be an at-large senate seat where the senator could serve that college.”

He said it is a combination of things that made ASUA fall short of having a candidate run to represent each specific college. The colleges that have a student running are more involved and a lot larger, according to Alvarez.

“I think that some of them were not informed early enough. I think some of them maybe just didn’t express interest,” Alvarez said. “We kind of expected that not all colleges would have an interest in having a representative.”

Looking back, Alvarez said he thought he and his team could have done better if they weren’t pressed for time to notify colleges of the opportunity to have a representative. He hopes more students will have an interest in representing their colleges in future elections.


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