Barnard Student Government Association’s newest elected officials said they are unfazed by this year’s lower voter turnout.
Jessica Blank, BC ’12 and SGA’s president-elect, said the decrease in participation of eligible voters from 48.8 percent last year to 41.5 percent has inspired her and vice president-elect Rachel Ferrari, BC ’12, to focus on increasing SGA’s presence in students’ lives.
This year, students had to decide on 15 constitutional amendments in addition to voting for the candidates of their choice. Students who submitted their ballot without voting for amendments weren’t counted in the election, which may have eliminated some votes.
“I think the constitutional amendment page was an issue. A lot of students didn’t want to do that, but if you didn’t fill out that part and hit submit your vote didn’t count,” said Blank.
Ferrari agreed that the decrease in turnout wasn’t a disappointment because of those problems.
“The constitutional amendments page isn’t as user-friendly as it can be and this is something we can work on for the future,” she said.
Blank beat Gabrielle Ferrara, BC ’12, and Mitzi Steiner, BC ’12, for the position. Ferrari ran unopposed.
Ferrari added that she would have liked to educate students more about not having their vote counted if they didn’t fill out every part of the ballot.
“Unfortunately the spring is so busy we were unable to,” said Ferrari.
Both Ferrari and Blank want to focus on SGA becoming more accessible to students in the upcoming year.
“SGA has been the most informative experience for me at Barnard. I’ve felt really close to Barnard since I joined my freshman year, so we are going to do a lot of PR to make sure everyone knows about it [SGA] and has the opportunity to have the same experience.”
Blank said she is also committed to better connecting SGA to students. She explained she would like to use her knowledge of working with the various student offices as president of the McIntosh Activities Council, which plans many Barnard events, to help clubs make use of Barnard resources.
“There are so many funds clubs can apply to and I don’t think they are aware of all of them,” said Blank.
She added that she would like to see the creation of a club liaison with SGA that clubs can go to with any questions or problems and learn about specific policies they may be unaware of.
Ferrari said she hopes to foster better communication between SGA and the administration.
“Each administrator that’s respective to certain committees will meet or speak with us weekly,” Ferrari said.
Blank also wants to create a mentorship program that continues beyond freshman year.
“After the NSOP program there should be mentoring for sophomores as well, even for seniors. Students should have the chance to be mentored by young alumni and faculty,” Blank said.
She added that she wants to create new programs for specific majors, and continue strengthening alumni connections.
“Things like Thanksgiving with Alumni are fantastic initiatives I would like to see continued,” she said.