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The Prospector

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Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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SGA elections to begin with new regulations

With our new election code, we’re trying to make things fair for everybody to run and to have the election process go a lot smoothly.

— Paulina Lopez

Large plastic banners, boasting the bright smiles of candidates running for a Student Government Association positions will soon line the usually bare walls of the Union breezeway.

SGA will begin the campaign season on April 28 to elect student officials who will represent campus for the 2014-15 academic year.

Polls will open April 30 at 7 a.m. and close May 1 at 5 p.m.

As of April 7—the deadline to submit an application to run for a position—the number of candidates includes two students who are running for president, two for vice president of external affairs, two for vice president of external affairs, 27 senators-at-large and 18 collegiate senators.

Names have not yet been released as yet because the applicants must first go through a background check.

One of the challenges candidates have had to deal with in the past is low voter turn out.

“We got 4,000 voters last year, I believe… and we’re almost 23,000 students, so that’s a really low turn out… and it’s really easy to vote, ” said current SGA President Paulina Lopez, a senior corporate communications major.

Low voter turn out at UTEP could be attributed to students not knowing candidates or what they stand for.

Last year, Jessica Giacomelli, junior psychology major, didn’t vote because she didn’t know any of the candidates.

“It’s one of those things that I meant to do, but because I didn’t know any of the candidates anyway, I didn’t have much of an opinion,” she said.

Lopez believes the marketing effort “We are SGA”—that was implemented under her presidency in order to improve SGA visibility—will increase voter turn out.

“That’s what I wanted to do this year differently,” she said. “To be more visible to students, to be more available and just there to help, so hopefully that’ll bring voter turn out to increase a little this year.”

However, some UTEP students don’t seem to know about SGA or what it does.

When Aaron Castro, junior biology major, was asked if he knew what SGA was, he answered, “straight gay alliance, something like that?”

SGA is a campus organization that focuses on student representation and provides a student voice in the university decision-making process. SGA also helps in funding various student organizations and hosts a number of campus events.

Some accomplishments under the current presidency include the addition of 31 more Wi-Fi routers at the Fox Fine Arts Center, the creation of new committees, a symposium in collaborating with the Mike Loya Center for Innovation, where scholarship money will be given away to students and a Centennial Arts Festival that will take place April 25, among others.

“This year we’ve helped the most number of students in the appropriations committee that we have,” Lopez said. “So more students have been able to travel, more students have been able to have their events on campus and that’s really nice. It’s been a great year, I’m really proud.”

Students will be able to vote in SGA elections at polling stations—which are yet to be determined—and on the UTEP webpage.

“So anybody can vote from anywhere,” said Maggie Ortega, administrative services coordinator for SGA.

Perla Galindo, 2014 election commissioner and junior political science major, said restrictions have been placed in the campaign process due to changes that were made to the election code.

The changes were implemented after some of last year’s candidates were sanctioned for violating campaign rules found in the code.

“With our new election code, we’re trying to make things fair for everybody to run and to have the election process go a lot smoothly,” Lopez said. “I want the process to be clean, fair, to be enjoyable and to learn, to make it about UTEP.”

According to Vice President for Internal Affairs Ruben Chavez, junior pre-business major, the election commissioners previously made changes.

“They just didn’t want to have a crazy election like last year’s,” he said.

Some of the changes made to the code include restricting independent party candidates from affiliating with any party, and all parties have to turn in their monetary quotas for media advertising prior to the elections. Candidates will also not be able to promote themselves next to computer labs.

Maria Esquinca may be reached at [email protected].

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SGA elections to begin with new regulations