One-ticket race shrinks Senate vote

Kathlyn Hotynski

A total of 604 students, down from last year’s total of 932, turned out in this week’s Student Senate elections, which ended Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Senate Parliamentarian and Elections Committee Chairwoman Avril Flaten attributed the lower turnout to the single presidential ticket.

“Part of what drives students to vote is the competition for the presidential position, which we didn’t have this year,” she said.

The 5:30 p.m. ending time was a half hour earlier than procedure allows.

Students also voted, 385-145, for UW-Eau Claire to remain a member of United Council, a student lobbying group. The vote means each student will pay a refundable $2 fee each semester along with tuition to fund Eau Claire’s membership.

President-elect Ray French and Vice President-elect Meghan Charlier, who garnered 476 votes, said the lack of competition had its own challenges this election.

“We put more time into (the election) than one would think, because we were unopposed,” Charlier said. “We wanted students to support us because they want to, not because they had to.”

French echoed Charlier’s sentiments.

“We asked to be voted for to show that students expect us to do a good job – to hold us accountable,” he said. “We want (students) to hold us accountable.”

Outgoing Senate Vice President Chris Nielson said that although his term will soon be up, he is very hopeful for the next group of leaders.

“I have a great deal of respect for Ray French. There is nobody more qualified to lead the student body,” Nielson said. “I’m also very optimistic about Meghan to see how she will grow as a leader.”

Nielson also said that his tenure as senate vice president was a great learning experience.

“I have grown as a person,” he said. “Now I’ll take some time off to enjoy being a student at UW-Eau Claire and maybe do some homework again.”

French and Charlier said they are optimistic about the new senate session and are excited about the number of new senators.

“We’re starting fresh,” French said. “We have a good dichotomy of experience and freshness that will hopefully keep people interested and accomplish things.”

French and Charlier will begin their work tomorrow by meeting with the chairs of the College of Arts and Sciences to discuss their proposal for a course syllabus database that would be available to all students.

“The real winners today are the students,” French said. “Not matter who ran, who won, democracy happened.”