Graduating seniors get to vote in Student Senate elections for the first time

The Student Senate Chambers are located in the Recreation Center on campus.

Megan Willgoos, Managing Editor

Graduating seniors have been allowed to vote in the RWU Student Senate election for the 2020-2021 school year. This is a first for seniors who typically do not have a say in who gets elected the year after they graduate.

Up for interpretation, Article VIII Section 1 of the Student Senate Bylaws states, “All undergraduate Day Division students of Roger Williams University shall be eligible to vote in student elections, referendums, and in student organizations.” Since seniors are not yet graduated when the polls go out, they are still undergraduate students.

“Consider a collective of people who live in your state, move and change residency to another state and still participate in your state’s elections,” Student Senate Advisor Adrianne Harris said when explaining the reasoning. “Their votes could change outcomes for you and the current residents of your state.” 

The choice was formally made by Christopher Costa, the student body president for the class of 2019-2020. 

“I think with more people participating [it] is probably a good thing to make sure we are electing the best candidates possible,” Costa said.

Junior Rees Harold, a former student senator and former clubs and organizations committee chair, thinks seniors need to know how big of an impact they will have now that they can vote.  

“I implore all seniors who vote to become informed, read the bios, reach out to the candidates, vote on merits not on simply who you are more friendly with,” Harold said. “I say the same to all students but seniors will not be here to see the results directly, but still have a right to cast a vote for their choice.” 

The polls opened on April 1 at approximately 8 a.m. Within four hours, three times more people had voted in this year’s election than last year’s, according to Harris. People were happily surprised with this news, but not entirely shocked because of the strong candidates running. 

“I personally wasn’t expecting that much of an increase,” Costa said.

“I think a lot of the credit can be given to our candidates who have all done a fantastic job campaigning on social media and with our clubs and organizations, they definitely reached a lot more people than usual.”

Since students are not coming back to campus to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, candidates had to rely on social media to make their voices heard and remind students to vote. 

Michaela Aptt is a sophomore running for a general senator position for next year’s Student Senate. Aptt was one of the candidates who used social media such as Snapchat stories as a resource to reach out to students. Aptt had mixed feelings on allowing graduating seniors to vote this year. 

“Whoever they [graduating seniors] elect will have no impact on them once those candidates are sworn in…” Aptt said. “So it’s a give and take, but I have faith that seniors choose in good faith, so I’m supportive of letting them vote.” 

After the Student Senate elections are over, the Senate will have internal elections for Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Voting closes tonight, April 2. 

“I applaud all students who have already voted and hope the numbers continue to rise,” Harold said. “Make your voice heard.”  

Election results will be posted tomorrow morning on The Hawks’ Herald website,