Though attendance at Wednesday’s UPUA Meet the Candidates session increased slightly relative to last week’s, many candidates still said they were disappointed with the lack of interest.
“It’s hard to fight apathy when it’s so pervasive,” John Zang, University Park Undergraduate Association head elections commissioner said. Zang (senior-international politics) added that he did think this week’s turnout at the Meet the Candidates was “much better” than the last session.
Last week’s event saw a low turnout from the student body. As previously reported, Justin Laskowski, deputy chair of events, said the low attendance stemmed from the event’s proximity to spring break. Laskowski said the commissioners did not have enough time to adequately advertise the Meet the Candidates session.
Many students sitting in the HUB-Robeson Centerduring the session weren’t aware that a campaign event was taking place for UPUA elections on March 27.
Out of 25 students asked, 24 were not aware that a Meet the Candidates session was occurring from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., while they were in the HUB.
Jenny Koziel said she was aware the event was taking place but was not able to attend because she had class — though she was interviewed in the HUB at about 1 p.m. Koziel (sophomore-microbiology) added that she was not aware of last week’s event.
Though Hope Williams said she had heard about last week’s event, she did not attend. But, Williams (freshman-rehabilitation and human services) said she was unaware a second session was occurring, while she was in the HUB.
Several students cited the need for more advertisement and promotion. Craig Wenner said he might have attended had he known it was taking place. Wenner (sophomore-English) added that it was important that students “have a say” in the student government.
Yet, most students also said they probably would not have attended, even if they had known it was occurring.
Andrew Bachman said he thought there should be an online resource for students who are not able to attend a Meet the Candidates session but want to familiarize themselves with the candidates.
UPUA did set up the website vote.psu.edu, but it is not fully updated. The site lists all the open positions and candidates vying for their respective positions. The site provides links to each candidate’s biography, platform and endorsements. The majority of candidates have a platform on the site, but there are four candidates whose names do not have attached hyperlinks.
“I wish the commission had done more,” Dray Krishnan, an on-campus representative candidate, said of the lack of advertisement.
Krishnan (sophomore-accounting and economics) added he thought more advertisement prior to the event and “signage” the day of the event would have been helpful.
Zang called the lack of student interest a “vicious cycle.” He said many students are not interested in UPUA, so the representatives don’t get as many opportunities to interact with the constituents. Zang also referenced UPUA budget limitations when approaching potential advertising. He said some students take issue with UPUA expenditures on “self-promotion,” adding that it was “hard to strike a balance.”
Several candidates, such as Victoria Woods and Lina Montopoli, cited the need for increased student awareness and UPUA outreach. Woods (sophomore-English and public relations), an on-campus representative candidate, said she thinks students don’t realize they can approach UPUA representatives.
“There’s definitely room for improvement in terms of more interaction,” said Montopoli (junior-community, environment and development), who is running uncontested as College of Agricultural Sciences representative.