Northern Student elections in full swing
Candidate filing deadline Friday
March 26, 2014
Voting for the student senate elections for the Associate Students of Montana State University-Northern will begin Tuesday.
Students can still sign up to run for student senate until Friday.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there was no competition for positions on the senate, leaving six students running unopposed.
Andrew Potter is running for the position of student senate president, a position currently occupied by Annie Kling. Potter, Eric Neal and Joseph Vernon are the only current senate members running for re-election as of Tuesday. Potter is the current administrative assistant. Neal and Vernon will be running for the same positions: senator at large and sustainability coordinator, respectively.
Denise Brewer, director of student activities, is a faculty adviser for the student senate and said even if someone who wants to run for a position does not file before the deadline Friday, they can still run if at least five voters write their names in.
The new elected student senate members will officially begin their terms in the fall semester but will attend two senate meetings to become familiarized with the work.
If there are too many empty positions after the senate elections to make a quorum, they will be forced to find people to fill them next semester in order to keep it running, Brewer said.
Potter will automatically win the presidency if no one files for a candidacy or gets written in on the ballots.
“There’s a lot of changes I’d like to see made,” Potter said. “I think I could be the one to help make those changes.”
Potter said some of the changes he wants to see are an increase of student engagement and a revitalization of the NorthPoints system.
NorthPoints are points that students can earn by signing a sheet of paper at events at Northern. Points can be earned at most of the events Northern hosts, such as concerts, comedy shows, Montana Actors’ Theatre productions, sporting events and so on. At the end of the semester, students may attend a silent and live auction where they spend points on prizes.
“I want to make it so NorthPoints are something people really want,” Potter said. “Right now, there’s not a whole lot of point in getting them.”
Potter said he is not sure if it will be possible to make these changes to the way NorthPoints works, but he wants to change the rewards for amassing the points.
“Basically, I’d like to make it so they actually have monetary value,” Potter said. “Essentially, you would have your student ID become a debit card.”
Potter hopes to allow NorthPoints to be used at the cafeteria and the bookstore. He said he has not talked to any administrators about the possibility, but he will be pursuing the change if he takes the presidency.
Changing NorthPoints is a tactic to achieve Potter's ultimate goal, which is raising student engagement at the university. He said he wants to create incentives for students to attend events and to find out what kind of events the students actually want to bring to Northern.
He added he would also like to see a change in the way the senate is run.
“I want to see it be a team and focus on the students first — work with the provost and the chancellor to make things happen,” Potter said.
He said he would be more strict on the way senate meetings and member participation in run. One method he plans to introduce is enforcing a three-strike rule of member absences from meetings.
“If they have three unexcused absences, I’ll kick them out … ,” Potter said.
He said it will be easy to be excused from a meeting, but members must check in with someone if they are going to be absent. This year’s senate has seen issues with member truancy and lack of communication.
Kling said Tuesday she is graduating, so will not be running for re-election. She will be starting the graduate program in the fall, but she said she believes the student senate rules allow only undergraduates to be members.
Kling said she thinks the student senate elections are very important.
“They’re just as important as any government election” Kling said. “It’s a government body elected by the body’s peers. They have an enormous amount of power. I would rank it on the same level as I would any other elected body.”
Kling added that Potter would be a great choice for president of ASMSUN.
“He is prepared for the job, unlike other people who are coming in and don’t know how to run things,” Kling said. “He knows what it’s about. He knows what the issues are.”
Potter has already made a network of people he can go to to get things done, Kling said. She added that the senate went through a reconstruction in this school year, and, since Potter has been a part of it as the administrative assistant, he would know how to keep the senate on its current path.
“The decisions we make affect the senate down the road,” Kling said. “He will be carrying on what we did this year. … My whole thing about the presidency was to bring the power back. Now that it’s back and has its power again, he will continue that momentum and it won’t get interrupted.”