The spring semester is a busy time for Manhattan College. One event of particular interest is the student government election, which is set to get underway in mid-March.
The elections are overseen by the Office of Student Engagement, who believe that the role of the school’s student government is extremely valuable and important in decision-making processes.
“[Student government has] so much power and say over what the actual year looks like for the student body and sometimes I think the entire community is not aware of that,” said John Bennett, director of student development. “All the big events, from Quadchella to the spring concert to Broadway plays…to lecture series, they have a say.”
“We’re leaving it in the hands of this [executive] board in particular to really be the voice of the students and make those decisions for the student body,” Bennett said. “They’re on a number of different committees that have actual change, where you see things about commuter meal plans, different policies on campus. Their opinions do matter.”
“They basically keep us in the know of what students want on campus,” said Michael Steele, assistant director of student engagement.
Student government elections are unusual from other events in the sense that they are planned “backwards.” The first event to be planned is the annual Inaugural Dinner, in which the victors of the election are officially installed into their new positions. The rest of the dates of interest are then planned in relation to that event, which is scheduled for April 11.
Steele then elaborated on other important dates during the election season, which were planned in relation to the Inaugural Dinner.
The election process itself officially begins on March 19, in which application packets and petitions become available for potential candidates. Candidates must submit the completed packets to the Office of Student Engagement by March 23.
Between these two dates, an information session for potential candidates is held by Student Engagement. This year, the session will be held on March 20.
Following the submission and acceptance of the application packets, candidates and their political parties campaign for office from March 23 to March 29. During this period, a debate among the presidential candidates will be held for the students on March 27.
The online ballot becomes available to students on March 29, and will remain open until the following day, March 30. The winners of the election are announced shortly after.
The election process will culminate on April 11, with the inauguration of the president-elect and his or her executive board at the Inaugural Dinner.
Micaela Bishop and Philip Mourikes, current student body president and executive vice president, were elected for the 2017-2018 school year last spring. Their entire party, known as the Jasper Pack, swept the executive board elections as well.
Bishop was involved with student government from the beginning of her time at the college.
“After such great experience in my role as Vice President of Commuters, it became very apparent to me that I had many goals and changes that I wanted to make,” she said. “Working under Dorian [Persaud] and a great team junior year encouraged me to keep the momentum going.”
Bishop also felt that what really put her Jasper Pack team over the top was their commitment to teamwork.
“We ran together, with no special interests but getting every single one of us at the table,” she said. “The bond that we worked towards, helped spread the word.”
According to Bennett and Steele, membership in student government can be a great gateway into participation in and leadership of other clubs on campus.
“If anyone that’s interested in becoming a student leader on campus, this is a great first step,” Steele said.
While the dedication and responsibility of a position in student government might seem daunting to some, Bennett and Steele encourage students to apply regardless of their hesitation.
“It’s not as intimidating as it probably sounds on paper,” Bennett said. “If somebody has an interest in it, we definitely suggest that they run for it.”