Disclaimer: Martin Flores was previously a reporter for The Phoenix.
In another student government election with low voter turnout, Maddie Drescher and Martin Flores were elected as president and vice president of the Student Government of Loyola (SGLC), respectively.
SGLC presidential elections took place from April 2 through April 5, and students were able to vote via a ballot sent to their Loyola emails by the SGLC Elections Board.
Out of 11,396 email invitations sent out to undergraduate students this year, only 1,389 students started filling out their ballot — or 11.6 percent — according to the elections committee. Around 1,200 students filled in candidates for president and vice president.
This is the sixth consecutive year of low voter turnout in student government elections, with 13 percent last year, 18 percent in 2018 and 23.5 percent in 2017.
Flores said he wasn’t surprised voter turnout didn’t grow.
“I think this year is pretty exceptional in terms of what we’re going through,” Flores said. “We are grateful that 11.6 engaged with SGLC in whatever capacity but that in and of itself is impressive given the circumstances.”
The percentage of voters who voted for Drescher and Flores was unknown at the time of publication. However, the two ran unopposed and would have been elected regardless.
Drescher said she has considered contacting Loyola Votes — a Loyola libraries initiative to encourage voting across the university — to help improve student government voter turnout. For example, a 2018 Loyola Votes initiative registered students to vote in or out of state in conjunction with U-Pass distribution for first-year and transfer students, The Phoenix reported.
Drescher also said currently, spring election committees set and finalize a timeline for elections each spring. But she said she would like to establish a more structured election period that doesn’t vary as much from year to year. Drescher gave an “arbitrary” example of hosting elections two weeks after spring break every year — in this way, students would come to expect elections at the same time every year.
Drescher and Flores’ campaign emphasized improving inclusion, sustainability, wellness and safety on campus. They said one of their main focuses is addressing student concerns with Loyola’s private police force, Campus Safety, and crime alerts — emails sent to the Loyola community when crime occurs on or near campus. Campus Safety has been criticized for not notifying students about crime in areas surrounding campus, The Phoenix reported.
Drescher also emphasized the two are striving for “continuity,” or continuing to work on legislation and issues from previous years. SGLC has been criticized for not doing enough, despite being the only student group with a direct line to Loyola’s administration, according to a January 2019 Phoenix staff editorial. Drescher said she thinks this concern is valid and stems from SGLC’s lack of cohesiveness between years.
Drescher said she and Flores campaigned because they don’t want legislation passed by the current and past SGLC terms to end after a single term. She said their goal is to continue to advocate for issues important to the student body, such as divestment, because they aren’t “a one-and-done situation.”
Come fall semester, Drescher and Flores said a secondary crime alert system and divestment are two campaign initiatives they’ll focus on. They also said they hope to create more opportunities for students to engage with SGLC and university leaders, from more time for question-and-answer sessions in meetings to continuing events such as Dinner with the Deans.
SGLC hosts Senate meetings each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and they’re being broadcast live on Facebook so students are still able to watch from home.