In another student government election facing low voter turnout, Kathleen Meis and Mario Guerrero emerged victorious and will serve as Student Government of Loyola Chicago’s (SGLC) president and vice president next school year.
Student voter turnout was calculated at a mere 13 percent — meaning just over 1,500 students voted — following a trend of declining turnout in recent years.
This is the fifth consecutive year voter turnout has fallen in SGLC elections, with 18 percent last year and 23.5 percent in 2017. In 2016, 28 percent of students participated and in 2015, 27 percent of students cast a vote, The Phoenix previously reported.
Meis and Guerrero, who won 63 percent of the vote, said they’ll work to increase next year’s voter turnout by increasing student government’s visibility on campus throughout the year and working with the committee who runs the spring elections to market voting more effectively.
During their campaign, the two mentioned SGLC’s reputation on campus and said they would work to help students understand student government’s role. Now, they aim to put that plan into motion by tabling in Damen Student Center and attending events put on by student organizations and departments.
“We can do as much as we can in this year to improve SGLC’s reputation and visibility and I think that happens through a multitude of different ways … the simplest of making sure we’re at different events, which I don’t think has been prioritized in the past,” Meis, 21, said.
Along with this, Meis and Guerrero said they’ll likely be challenged by improving the retention of SGLC members. Guerrero, an economics and sociology double major, said they want to focus on giving members a “buy-in” to the organization.
“Establishing goals long term so people can see themselves as something bigger … I think that will help with our retention numbers,” Guerrero, 21, said.
The two ran on a platform emphasizing accessibility, inclusivity, sustainability and accountability, focusing on student concerns with Campus Safety, accommodations for students with disabilities on campus and the housing crisis. After being sworn in April 2, Meis and Guerrero said their first order of business will be getting the other positions in student government filled for next year.
As for the fall, Meis said they aren’t sure which initiatives will be the focus because it’ll depend on the incoming senate, but they’ll aim to improve relations with different departments within the university, specifically Government Affairs, Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Campus Ministry and Student Activities and Greek Affairs.
“We’re going to prioritize relationship building, we’re going to prioritize connecting administration with students,” Meis, an environmental policy and advocacy and social change double major, said.
Meis and Guerrero defeated two other tickets in their victory — Sophie Yano and Ben Franc ran for the positions hoping to highlight accessibility and inclusion at Loyola; Harsh Patel and Thomas Sallese wanted to increase resources and aid for registered student organizations on campus.
The student government presidential elections took place March 21-22 and ballots were sent to Loyola students through their university email address.
SGLC hosts Senate meetings each Tuesday at 4 p.m., and anyone at Loyola is encouraged to attend. Students with concerns or those looking to participate can visit the SGLC office in Damen Student Center room 210 or visit the SGLC “Get Involved” page on its website.
Applications for the rest of the SGLC positions will be released next week on the SGLC Facebook page and website.