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USG: Uncontested election yields expected results

Zachary Noesen and Rose Brookhart were announced as the 2022-23 USG president and vice president, after a ballot of 11 unopposed campaigns produced expected results.

Former USG President Alexander Chiarelott said the number of officers on the ballot in the annual USG election cycle varies based on multiple factors. He said an uncontested presidential ticket can lead to lower incentive for other undergraduate students to run formal campaigns.

“The lack of campaigns doesn’t really help to drive up interest,” he said.

Chiarelott said factors such as the number of graduating seniors who will be leaving USG and the number of students in a cohort that actively engage with the government that represents them at BGSU also affect how many apply to be on the ballot.

Noesen said a reason this year’s presidential ticket was uncontested was due to goals of “cross-campus collaboration, as opposed to fighting for one position.”

A goal of his and Brookhart’s was “to foster a spirit of collaboration between the folks who were going to run.”

This includes people outside of USG, such as the BGSU College Democrats, Noesen said.

Having like-minded people in student leadership positions will allow for easier collaboration between student organizations, Noesen said.

“Most of the goals we fight for at USG are shared, common goals with other offices and organizations around campus,” he said.

Establishing and pursuing these shared goals will hopefully result in better outcomes, he said.

Instead of competing for donations from the same population of students for events for the same cause, “we’re just going to continue having less successful events for each organization,” he said.

Noesen and Brookhart said filling seats is an immediate goal of their administration.

Chiarelott acknowledged there were at least three write-in campaigns being run — candidates who are not on the ballot but actively engage members of the public to write their names down.

Chiarelott said if a write-in candidate receives enough votes — about 10 to 15, he said, — they are approached by USG representatives about accepting a seat in USG.

There are a significant number of seats in USG that are appointed though. Every residence hall has a senator appointed by a hall council. Every student union usually sends a senator to represent their organization, and Chiarelott’s administration changed the military and nontraditional student senators to appointed positions, he said.

The three committee chairs — Academic Affairs, Internal Affairs and Student Affairs — and the Speaker of the Senate are nominated within USG and voted on by the Senate.

But for the elected positions every undergraduate student sees on their annual ballot, if a position isn’t filled it’s the job of the incoming administration to fill those seats themselves.

The USG webpage has an application open year-round for vacant positions. Applicants are interviewed by the Internal Affairs Chair and the Speaker of the Senate.

USG also has tables throughout the year in the union and at major student involvement events like Campus Fest. And senators often encourage their peers to apply as well, Chiarelott said.

But if a position remains vacant for a whole year, the students that position represents may have less representation overall, or in some cases, none.

For example, only three of the 10 available off-campus senator seats were filled by the end of the year.

Continuing unfinished work

At the USG end-of-the-year banquet on April 4, Noesen and Brookhart were sworn in and Chiarelott and Lutz gave outgoing, reflective speeches.

Chiarelott acknowledged that his administration was unable to complete one of three issues he and Lutz ran their campaign on: getting student teachers compensated for mileage spent driving to schools.

It started off with gas cards, until Chiarelott said the issue opened up to ensuring all student employees are appropriately compensated. The issue became bigger than was initially anticipated and Chiarelott said he hopes it will be continued in the next administration.

Noesen said it’s an issue he plans to continue working on during his administration.

A lot of our initiatives really blend nicely into Alex and Gil’s administration initiatives, mainly some of our student labor initiatives,” he said.

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