Every year, students elect other students to represent them in Student Government, the legislating body in charge of representing the interests of their constituencies and student body as a whole. The most notable positions are president and vice president.
During the months prior to the election, there is a multitude of ways for students to get to know the candidates and find out which ones they associate best with. Some ways that students get their names out to the public are through debates, sidewalk chalk and handing out flyers in front of Parks Library.
There will be a total of 36 Senate seats up for grabs as well as president and vice president.
Two seats for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, two seats for the College of Business, one seat for the College of Design, four seats for the College of Engineering, two seats for the College of Human Sciences, three seats for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, one seat for the College of Veterinary Medicine, two seats for the Graduate College, four seats for the Inter-Residence Hall Association (IRHA), one seat for Frederiksen Court, one seat for the Interfraternity Council, one seat for the Collegiate Panhellenic Council, one seat for Schilletter and University Village and 11 seats for off-campus representation.
Student Government Election Commissioner Emily Rizvic is on part of the team which oversees and facilitates the election process. Rizvic discussed what students can expect from this year’s cycle.
“From a student perspective, they can definitely expect a lot of campaigning,” Rizvic said. “Last year, a lot of candidates came to organizations and spoke with students kind of listening to what they wanted on campus.”
Two key moments in the elections are the presidential and vice presidential debates.
“The debates are fun,” Rizvic said. “They are always fun to see what the candidates have to say about Iowa State and what the students are looking for in a candidate.”
As of now, the presidential debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 25 and the vice presidential debate for 6 p.m. Feb. 11. No location has been announced for the debates so far.
“The debates will be live-streamed, and in addition to the live-stream, we will have live-questioning,” Rizvic said. “So for that, what we will have is a Google form doc and in that Google form doc a student can just ask a specific slate a question or they can ask all of the slates a generic question like ‘What is your favorite part of ISU?’ or etcetera.”
Every student has the option of voting and participating in the elections with mandatory informative sessions for individuals interested in becoming candidates.
However, candidates can be barred from running from office by the Election Commission if they get too many violations or do malicious acts, Rizvic said.
Individuals interested in running for a senatorial seat must attend a senatorial informative session 6 p.m. Thursday, 6 p.m. Monday or 12 p.m. Wednesday. All sessions are located at the Memorial Union in room 3512.
Those interested in running for an executive position must attend an executive informative session 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Gold Room of the Memorial Union.
Presidential and vice presidential candidates run on a slate, meaning both president and vice president are voted for together. While campaigning, the slates have two options to choose from when deciding how to arrange funds. The first option is as a private slate.
“If a slate is running private, they fundraise the money,” Rizvic said. “That could be from donors and they take that money and they deposit it into the election commission spending account with the Campus Organization Accounting. Then after they deposit it, they can use their P card that they are allotted for their campaign treasurer and they can use that money to spend on campaign materials so long as it follows university policy, PNC, our election laws, etcetera.”
A P-card is a card that is linked to the Election Commission spending account which is used to purchase campaign materials. The second choice is to be a public slate.
“Then for public slates, [the funds are] already loaded into an account, Election Commission gets $6,000,” Rizvic said. “Because we’re only allotted $6,000 we don’t ask for more from Senate, what we do is we re-configure the cap.”
The $6,000 that the Election Commission receives is evenly split up between all slates that decide to run as public.
“So if we had seven slates, six public but one is private, what would happen is the financial cap for all the slates would be $1,000 so we can distribute $1,000 for all the public slates and then on top of that, the private slate can’t use additional funds outside of what the public slates are allotted. So everyone would only be able to spend $1,000,” Rizvic said.
With the funds that slate receives, they can spend it on a variety of things. Election Commission helps to organize some of the events, but slates also go out of their way to try to catch the public’s eye. Last year, there was an open house for students to meet and talk with the candidates.
“We had that last year, [if we do again] we will have the executive slates and the senators there if that happens,” Rizvic said. “Otherwise, there may be events that the slates host themselves, usually around Parks a table will give out donuts or stickers, buttons, something like that.”
However, there are a few stipulations on what and where candidates may solicit.
“In the election code, we did add-in that you can’t solicit at residence halls and that’s just for safety reasons and nuisance reasons,” Rizvic said.
There may be posters and signs hung up though throughout residence halls.
“They do have to get approval, so they go through the Poster Distribution Service and then they themselves post the posters around campus,“ Rizvic said.
This election cycle will hold a few new changes than past years. Slate websites will now be hosted on the Student Government webpage and individuals will not be able to run for more than one position.
“Websites are going to be on the Student Government webpage, that will be completely different from last year,” Rizvic said. “They won’t be able to purchase anything that you are not allowed under COA regulations, so that would be like a website. [...] In addition, you can’t run for multiple offices. If you wanted to run for president and vice president, you can’t run for that particular office and run for a Senate seat.”
Previously, a candidate running for president could also run for a Senate seat within Student Government. This gave some candidates access to funds others would not have, Rizvic said.
“The reasoning why Election Commission came around to this reasoning was because we didn’t like the idea that if you were running as president and vice president, you were able to spend $2,000 on your campaign that you could easily win a Senate seat because of the amount you were spending,” Rizvic said. “You’d get name recognition on top of that because you’d be at the debates, you’d be on the ballot twice and we just went away from that and put more limitations on it.“
Campaigning will officially begin at 7 a.m. Feb. 1, and the election will be over the course of two days, March 3 and March 4, with results coming out March 5. Students will be able to vote online at vote.iastate.edu.