This year’s UW-Madison freshmen will be the last ones eligible to sit on the Associated Students of Madison as First Year representatives after a recent decision from Student Judiciary.
Currently, students who are registered as freshmen on the University Registrar can run for the four open seats, but after Oct. 18, the annual fall elections will come to a permanent close.
Every four years, Student Judiciary reapportions the Student Council seats based off of the number of students in each school or college. Chief Justice Will Olson cited the business school as an example; in the last four years the population has increased and therefore needs another seat to be properly represented, he said. Student Judiciary’s ruling reapportions the four First Year seats as Business, Special, Graduate and Engineering.
Shared Governance Chair Deena Whitwam, who won a First Year seat in fall 2015, said she thought it was a fair decision.
“The freshman reps are usually Letters and Science students, which gives that academic college disproportional voting power,” Whitwam said. “Although freshmen interested in student government will not be able to get involved in this way right in the fall, they are still always encouraged to apply for the ASM internship.”
The change will impact the spring elections when the four reapportioned seats go into effect. Because of the decision, the lowest vote-getters in Business, Special, Graduate and Engineering will have the start of their term delayed until Nov. 1, 2018 — six months — so the final group of First Year representatives can finish their terms.
However, Student Council can instead cut short the terms of First Year representatives with a three-fourths vote. Instead of holding office for an academic year, First Year representatives would only be in office for half their usual terms.
In this case, the four lowest-vote getters in each of the reapportioned seats would take office with the rest of the 2018 representatives elected in the spring.
Although the decision shortens the term of some representatives, the freshman class had double representation — from both their college or school as well as the First Year seats, which did not offer the student body equal representation, Olson said.
“[Freshmen representatives] were a special status not given to incoming graduate students, transfer students, or any other student population that was new to the university,” Olson said. “We reached the consensus that with reapportionment we should aim to provide equal voice to all students and not create special classes among the student body.”