The Associated Student Inc. (ASI) elections are in full swing this week as day one wraps up, but with the entire student body no longer on campus due to COVID-19 concerns, keeping the student body informed might be difficult.
The ASI elections began Tuesday as a mass email was sent to every student on campus with an online link to the ballot. There are 44 students running for a seat in the ASI, including three running for president.
Ongoing concerns of COVID-19 across California led Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro to announce the closure of campus on March 12 and to move all in-person classes to virtual classes.
As ASI elections are still ongoing, some students felt the elections were poorly timed and will result in low turnouts.
“I’m a little skeptic about voter turnout myself as well,” said Hunter Sansom, communication major and former ASI senator. “Last year it dropped from the previous year voter turnout and students were still on campus… with everything else going on right now elections are the last thing on people’s minds. Most students will be starting their first week of digital classes this week, not checking their email for a ballot. As a former senator myself, these aren’t exactly ideal conditions I would want to be running in!”
Other students think that the elections should keep going.
Holley Estep, a recreation administration major, said the student body has been informed about it via email, and the election should continue.
“While I think it should’ve been pushed more through emails, there have been emails about it,” Estep said. “With us students looking at our emails more often because of online classes, we should be able to take three minutes and vote.”
Another student, Caroline Olson, a marketing major, believes that this may be a time for the students to be productive.
“It may affect some individuals,” Olson said. “I don’t think it should be postponed or canceled. To be honest, it gives us all something productive to do during this time while we are at home.”
In a debate held on March 17, two of the three ASI presidential candidates, Elizabeth Rocha Zuniga and Naila Estrada, weighed in on the issue of having the election with no student body present. Both candidates agreed that with the current climate they predict voter turnout to be low but will utilize social media to get their campaign out to the public.
“It’s very hard to talk to students with all of this happening,’ Estrada said. “Not all students have access to the internet, so how are they going to be able to vote? And that definitely is going to impact our election but I feel like some of the things that I’ve done just to keep my campaign going and the word out that I’m running is, you know sticking to social media.”
Zuniga stressed the importance for her campaign to use social media to reach the students and how it’s important for the student body to constantly be plugged in through email.
“It’s a little bit more difficult to have a personal conversation, which is what I’m definitely more about, but what we’re doing is using social media and seeing how we can best address and communicate with students who we would necessarily only communicate in person,” she said. “It’s hard because we’re trying our best to find ways to strategically reach our audience.”
ASI elections are running from March 24 to 26.