The posters are hung, the cookies handed out and the election won. But the job of a BYU/SA president is far from over.
Whoever students choose to be their president and executive vice president March 4–5 will make a difference in student lives for the next school year.
Adrian Klemme, assistant director of student leadership, said the BYU/SA presidency has a substantial influence on students.
“Who they select and the programs they put on affects every student in some way,” Klemme said. “A student’s experience is influenced by what happens in this office.”
Though the percentage of BYU students who vote in student government elections is higher than that of most other universities, only 23 percent of BYU students (just under 7,000 of 30,000 students) voted in last year’s elections, according to Klemme.
Sean Fisher, a senior from Hollister, Calif. and executive director of communications in BYU/SA, said in order to understand elections, students need to understand what BYUSA is and how it is organized.
Fisher said BYU/SA is not a traditional student government organization because it focuses more on serving students rather than taking an administrative role. There is a unique dynamic with administration at BYU because it has a lot more control over aspects of student life.
“BYU/SA is the key through which President Samuelson understands the student body,” Fisher said. “That’s why it’s so important for students to get involved through BYU/SA. The BYU/SA president represents the voice of the student body.”
Fisher said BYU/SA is a forum in which students’ perspectives are voiced through the six sections of BYU/SA. The BYU/SA president chooses a vice president to run each of the six areas. These vice presidents then choose executive directors and volunteers to work in each area.
“I think students should vote because they’re able to select the candidate whose vision best embraces the ideas of the activities they should run, what kind of activities they should have, and how they invite others to get involved,” said Nathan Ward, director of student leadership. “Each has come to this point with a vision of how they would like to lead the association, what things they would like to prioritize.”
BYU/SA’s six areas contribute to student life in a number of ways. The clubs area includes over 90 different clubs for students to join. Fisher said this area charters clubs and ensures that the clubs are helping students. Student Honor runs Honor Week and celebrates the Honor Code through involving students in activities such as Honor Choir. The activities area is in charge of hosting large events that volunteers from the Blue Crew can participate in and help set up.
“When someone is voting for the BYU/SA president, they are voting for the man or woman who they feel would best lead that team of six areas in accomplishing the vision and mission of BYU/SA and will make all the moving parts work,” Fisher said.
Fisher said students are encouraged to come into the BYU/SA office and speak to officers in order to have their concerns heard.
Ward said the candidates worked to find out what students want and have then applied that to their initiatives.
“Both candidate pairs have been meeting with students, both individually and in groups, to find out what their interests are,” Ward said. “Since having an interest in running for office, they have been thinking of this for some time and have strong desires to find out from students. They’ve also been able to talk to students on the Student Advisory Council who can give them insights about what issues are important to students at this time.”
Ward said the Student Advisory Council is the part of BYU/SA that identifies the concerns that students have and looks for ways to solve those concerns. It is comprised of student representatives who communicate with officers and administrators to address problems on campus.
“SAC is comprised of student representatives from each of the colleges in the university as well as specific departments,” Ward said. “It has representatives for students of other faiths, for freshmen, for multicultural students and international students. They meet weekly to discuss issues. It is meant to be a standing focus group for administrators to come to and ask and develop ideas about possible policy changes. They give their feedback as students.”
Students can vote through a simple process. Emails that contain a link to the voting page will be sent out, or students can use vote.byu.edu. Students will need to enter their Net IDs to gain access to the voting page.
Klemme said he encourages students to be part of the process and learn about the candidates.
“It would be great if everyone votes, then everyone’s voice is heard,” he said.