Student Senate election affected by COVID-19

Student Senate election affected by COVID-19

Sophia Sailer, News Reporter

From Sept. 28 through Oct. 1, Winona State University students voted for Student Senate representatives while COVID-19 posed challenges to the process.

With COVID surging on, students could not meet Student Senate candidates face-to-face, but could meet through Zoom, making for a unique approach to voting.

There were ten seats up for grabs this semester, including two freshman seats, one College of Education seat and one College of Business seat, among others.

Mitchell Prosser, a first-year student at Winona State majoring in legal studies and minoring in history, says he joined Student Senate because he wanted to make an impact and make friends.

“I ran for Student Senate because I wanted to leave a lasting impact on campus,” Prosser said. “I wanted to be the voice for the freshman class and help others around on campus, [and] I saw it as a way to get involved on campus and make friends.”

Kaileigh Weber, a first-year student majoring in political science and public administration, said she feels grateful to not have been affected by COVID in the way others have, and wants to help those who have been affected.

“Like most other incoming freshman, COVID messed with the end of senior year and took away a lot of things many of had been waiting to do for so long,” Weber said. “The worst part is we all thought it would be over by the time we were entering our adult lives, but here we are eight months later. I personally am really lucky where COVID has not affected me greatly, but my heart goes out to everyone that has [been affected].”

Mikayla Cup, a sophomore majoring in early childhood and elementary teaching, said that COVID made her want to join Student Senate even more.

“Now is the time for students and senators to have an impact on their community. We have a voice about many things; such as whether classes are online or in person,” Cup said. “These conversations have been hard to have, and they are very controversial, but are so important.”

Without being able to talk to people face to face, some candidates said they found it harder to get people to vote in this year’s Student Senate election.

“I totally think the voting process had less people voting this year,” Presser said. “It was harder for candidates to go out and talk to people on campus because many students are remotely learning from home.”

With so little human interaction happening on campus right now, many felt the need to work harder at communicating with each other.

“I think it’s so important that Senate keeps in contact with students to make sure everyone is heard. This year, mental health is the primary focus of our executive board, and I love that. Senate is trying its best to make decisions for student’s needs,” Cup said.

Many candidates believe that Student Senate can help everyone stay safe and healthy through COVID.

Weber said that he knows Student Senate is “working hard to keep student, staff and faculty engage while being safe.”

Weber also said that if everyone works together, the whole campus can be more protected and create a better environment for those who come to campus.

Student Senate continues to hold weekly public meetings during the pandemic, although they have had to transition to Zoom to do so.

Meetings are held on Zoom every Tuesday at 5pm.