By Gelsey Plaza /// Staff Writer
March 11-18 was the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) elections for the 2016-2017 school year. Despite LC’s environment of an engaged and active student body, there was a lack of applicants for Cabinet positions. Only one person ran for the position of Vice President, Treasurer, Student Organization Coordinator and Community Service and Relations Coordinator. This reduction of student engagement is consistent with trends seen in other recent ASLC elections.
The ASLC Senate is a collaborative institution that maintains a democratic system of power. The Senate strives to represent the student body. It also supports a strong connection with the administration. However, student apathy can make ASLC a weaker institution. The more confidence students have in ASLC, then the more confidence the administration will have that ASLC represents students.
Current freshmen Senator Alden Chatfield ’18 says that a common misconception about ASLC is that it is an institution disconnected to the student body.
“ASLC is still students,” Chatfield said. “While we have distinct access to the administration, our purpose is to recognize the voice of the student body. Our ability to do so requires the student body to recognize ours. In other words, the legitimacy of ASLC is circular in nature: when the student body values us, then the administration observes that value and trusts that we are legitimate. We can only be successful as a student government when both the students and the administration are a part of the conversation.”
Another freshman senator, Miranda Mora ’18, thinks that it does not take a lot to fight apathy.
“It only takes student government representatives to be more accessible, creative and understanding in the methods they implement for students and members of this community to approach them when they want support or when they are concerned about certain issues on campus,” Mora said. “I think that apathy [toward] student government comes from students not being able to see their initiatives materialize. It also arises since communication with student representatives can sometimes be difficult and bureaucratic.”
Mora was the only candidate running for the Community Service and Relations Coordinator position. As coordinator, she plans on creating an online platform to facilitate a communications network between students and ASLC representatives.
“I also plan on creating stronger connections with student unions,” Mora said. “That way, there can be events in which we sit all together to discuss certain issues and initiatives through the lenses of different communities on campus. It is important to know what unions and groups are working on so ASLC can be more supportive with events and causes happening on campus.”
Adam Fractor ’17, current ASLC Chief of Staff and a candidate for ASLC President, thinks that one way to increase student engagement on campus is to make ASLC more transparent and accessible.
“My Cabinet would be more active on social media and more engaged with student unions so that we have a solid foundation for student engagement,” Fractor said. “I welcome and encourage students to be a part of this campus’ political process, as we cannot implement change unless we work together.”
Current junior Senator Nick LeSage ’17, who is the only candidate for Vice President, hopes Senate can shape ASLC into something that matters to students and that also serves as a strong voice for the student body.
“Students will always have things they want to change about this school,” LeSage said. “Many simply do not know that ASLC has the potential to help with many of those changes. My goal is to use my abilities as the Senate’s chair to ensure senators are reaching out to students and are making contact with the faculty and staff members who have the ability to help them bring about changes.”
Despite the apparent lack of engagement by students in student politics, the ASLC candidates are all eager to increase school-wide participation and develop a better platform for intercommunication.