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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Increased number of students campaign for A.S. offices

Darion Johnston, the outgoing Associated Students director of legislative affairs, said that the ideal situation would be if at least two people were running for each elected position in the student government. Photo courtesy of Chico State.

With the Associated Students general election just around the corner, candidates are getting ready to vie for office with more competition than in years past.

This year, 25 students have officially declared candidacy and are approved to run. Students may also campaign as a write-in as well, which would mean that their name would not be on the ballot and would have to be written in correctly.

Seventeen positions within the student government are up for grabs, compared with the 10 positions A.S. has offered before the introduction of senators for each college last year.

Students can see that current officers are advocating, especially on social media, said Nan Timmons, who works for A.S. Government.

“I think our current slate of officers has done a good job of being very visible and well exposed,” Timmons said. “Our A.S. President Taylor Herren, who is a huge student advocate is everywhere. Students see her all the time at events. She is speaking and talking with students. We also have our new leadership center, the Wildcat Leadership Center, and I think that’s been a big difference,”

The Wildcat Leadership Center is a new physical space for people to go to. Timmons said that because it’s a hub of different things, like student government, the Wildcat Leadership Institute, Freshman Leadership Opportunity, Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, and Student Life and Leadership. Having all of those in one spot has provided officers with a lot more people traffic to engage with.

“I think just that visibility, the location, and how available our current set of officers have made themselves available to students at large has made more students aware of what’s going on,” Timmons said.

Last year, there were only 20 candidates running for office.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there for students,” Timmons said. “We just need them to know about them.”

Current officers made a commitment to do better outreach this year about positions available for students, said Darion Johnston, A.S. director of legislative affairs. She has been encouraging students to run for office and get involved by offering them opportunities to learn about her position.

“A lot of our officers have given students opportunities to become engaged in A.S. so that they can be qualified candidates this year,” Johnston said.

Last year was the first time that the senator positions for each college were available for students. This is why many candidacy numbers were lower last year, Johnston said. Many students did not know what a senator was or what their duties would be, and this year senator positions are more well-known.

Senators are elected by the student body to represent one of Chico State’s seven colleges. If students have an issue with a major within that college or an academically focused issue, then they can go to the senator to help with that process.

One officer last year stepped down for personal issues, and the other two officers were forced to step down because they did not meet minimum requirements for major office-holding students that were set by the chancellor’s office.

New officers were appointed to these positions after candidates went through an application and interview process.

“We’ve had a lot of turnover and it’s been sad losing our officers,” Johnston said. “But it’s been good for other students who’ve had an opportunity to step into those roles.”

Four senator positions were also replaced, two in the fall semester and two in the spring semester. Those people may not have been aware of what the position entailed as well as some requirement issues, Johnston said.

Johnston expects the senator positions to be more stable this time around, she said, and emphasized that there is a big responsibility in these jobs.

“The reason you should be running, bottom line, is because you have a passion for serving students,” Johnson said. “It’s not about boosting your resume. The most successful officers are the officers who take the work that’s been started before them and continue off that foundation.”

Last year, many positions had no candidates at all while others were unopposed.

“I would’ve hoped that there was a competitive race between each elected officer position,” Johnston said, “meaning that there’s at least two candidates for each of them.”

Kassandra Bednarski, A.S. commissioner of community affairs, said it is important for candidates to beyond what their bylaws ask of them.

“I think being an officer is being able to fulfill the needs of your students and outreach to students to see what the problems are,” Bednarski said. “You need to be the go-to representative for the students.”

Kristina Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @kristinacsuc on Twitter.

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