Undergraduate Student Government (USG) members during a senate meeting on Sept. 5, 2019 on Stony Brook University campus. The USG elections will end on Friday, Sept. 11. BERNARD SANCHEZ/STATESMAN FILE

Anya Marquardt is a sophomore English major with a minor in journalism. 

This week from Sept. 7 to Sept. 11, voting for the Stony Brook Undergraduate Student Government (USG) is commencing. All positions are up for election, from the president to almost two dozen senate seats. The USG controls much of student life at Stony Brook, especially when it comes to finance, from funding clubs and activities on campus to organizing events. Another large financial component is also up for election: the Student Activity Fee

USG is made up of various positions that are all being voted on in this week’s election. These positions include the Executive Council, which is made up of the president, the five vice president positions (Executive, Academic Affairs, Student Life, Clubs and Organizations, and Communications) and the treasurer. There are 23 seats in the Senate that are up for election, all of which are currently open. Each and every position oversees a different part of undergraduate life at Stony Brook, which goes to show the importance of those who are elected into USG.

There are two parties that most candidates are associated with: A.F.T.E.R (Actively Furthering Talent Education and Representation) and O.F.F (One Foot Forward). Reading up on these parties is a great way to get to know the candidates running for office. Both parties have an Instagram page dedicated to spotlighting their views and giving profiles on the candidates that are running in their party. 

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However, let’s not forget about why the undergraduate student body should care about Student Activity Fees.

Currently, the Student Activity Fee is mandatory and requires students to pay $40 for the 2020 fall semester, which is a drop from the regular $99.50 students had to pay in previous semesters. The Student Activity Fee is responsible for funding many aspects of student life. It funds recognized student organizations and clubs, recreational and social activities, events promoting cultural and education enrichment and the administration of programs for students. Students can either vote for the Student Activity Fee to continue to be mandatory, or for it to be voluntary. If the fee becomes voluntary, all undergraduate students will be able to choose whether or not they would like to pay the fee. If it continues to be mandatory, all undergraduate students will continue to be billed, and commuter students who cannot utilize USG services must request a Fee Waiver application from USG.

Voting in the USG election is imperative. In the past, USG has advocated for the Graded/Pass/No Credit (G/P/NC) option, the renovation of the North and Central Reading Rooms in the Melville Library, set the 24 hour library operation in motion and implemented the free Menstrual Hygiene Product Initiative. These initiatives would never have occurred if it was not for the Senators and the people on the Executive Board. It is up to us, the student body, to choose who we want to represent us. We should take advantage of this opportunity, as those in office will be the ones who push for more initiatives to help the student body.

Voting in this week’s election takes less than five minutes to complete. Every student has been sent an email from Student Life with the link to vote on SB Engaged instead of the previous voting procedure on SOLAR. The process was changed after less than three percent of the undergraduate student body voted in last year’s election.

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Take advantage of your right to vote in this week’s election. The new ballot form on SB Engaged has allowed for a quick and simple way for you to cast your vote for the officers who will be in charge of your experience at Stony Brook.

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