In an effort to broaden access to campus elections, University of Kansas student leaders have set up a Student Senate Equitable Elections Fund.
The action grew out of arguments last school year that campaign costs attached to the student senate elections created barriers that kept underrepresented students from gaining representation in student government.
In March a group of minority students registered the Multicultural Student Government as a formal organization on the Lawrence campus and requested funding that would have meant an additional $2 campus-wide student fee to bring in about $90,000 annually. The organization wanted a voice equal to that held by the Student Senate.
But Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little vetoed the student senate’s approval to fund the multicultural student government organization. Gray-Little said a separate student government was not the right action, but suggested the student government should find a way to be more open, inclusive and representative of the campus.
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On Friday the student senate executive staff announced that it believes“the most impactful way to break down institutional barriers is through the creation of an equitable elections process.”
The new fund was created with gifts from donors to eliminate inherent monetary disadvantages and inequities in the Student Senate elections process.
“A student government that serves all students should allow the participation of all students,” said Stephonn Alcorn, student body president.
“The equitable elections fund is a pathway to increase participation and opportunities for underrepresented students in student leadership to ensure that elected KU student leaders represent all individuals of the student body.”
The new fund will allow student senate coalitions to receive up to $700 help them meet the $1,000 elections spending limit, provided the coalition first raises $300 on its own.
Final details concerning distribution and application to receive funds will be completed in the coming weeks. The fund will be available beginning Spring 2017 for the Student Senate general election.