Oshkosh Student Association President Jared Schadrie sat down for an interview with Hailey Lawrence to discuss the newly implemented voting bylaw. One year after a controversial election, Schadrie said he has high hopes that the new bylaw will improve OSA elections for the future.
What does this new bylaw entail?
Obviously we had a lot of controversy last year and it’s been in for a while … but now we redid it so now it’s on a point system so if you get up to a certain amount, then you would be disqualified at that point. There is no longer a percentage of total votes taken away. There were a lot of students that were angry about that, and that made sense.
What was the process behind creating this bylaw?
We formed a committee right after the elections. I myself was on it as well as two or three other people from other slates that were on it, and our main goal was to make sure that we took that whole penalty system out of it. Students didn’t like it and our slates all agreed that we needed to fix this.
So it was a mutual agreement between the slates that this needed to be fixed?
Yeah. After the election we all got together [and] there were a lot of topics that we wanted to discuss on most of it [the bylaw]. From our consensus, we needed to change that portion and we kind of saw it as a main goal … to change the bylaws. And after we did make those changes, we brought it to the senate and the assembly approved it and we showed them that we are no longer doing this and this is the new system.
What was the reaction within OSA to create this bylaw?
There wasn’t any controversy from changing it to a total point system. The only thing that I forgot to add in the bylaws was a section saying that all the candidates get up to 10 points … that’s something we missed. They’ll have to rewrite them next year with the merger since they’ll have to rename everything. A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh student might mean a different thing in the future so we have to make sure that we let the commission know that will be something they’ll need to outline to give to the next executive board.
I did not know that the merger had anything to do with that.
Just to clarify, it’s just for language. Because right now it’ll say “the Oshkosh students” and in the future, we don’t know what UW Oshkosh students will mean. So that might mean the other two campuses’ bylaws might not affect our student government or their student government, but I’m just saying that precise language on who students are… Right now, the thought is we are going to try to keep the body separate but have some type of unified group to communicate with each other.
Why do you think that voter turnout is so low?
For OSA, one of our main findings through our survey last semester is that most students don’t know what OSA is or what our services are, so I don’t think students don’t know who we are or what these positions are. It’s not a good thing, but students are becoming a little more apathetic and there might be less turnout for elections.
Going off of the uneven voting turnouts, comparing voter turnout last year, what is there to do to make sure there are better results?
We’ve been working with our marketing director and we’ve upped that position a little bit to try and give them more hearsay on what we do. Our main focus has been on campus services. As for turnout, we mainly depend on our candidates to try to bring people in. We’ve had pamphlets before [and] emails, but those seem not to be working. I met with University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s executive board and they’ve had amazing turnout the last couple of years, so we are trying to see if we can have a new system rather than going through Titan Link. Maybe Titan Link is a little bothersome to people.
Besides marketing, is there any other things OSA is doing to reach out to the student population a lot more?
We are making some changes to some of our services. Right now, we have a Titan Discount Club [and] we are renaming it, revamping it. We’ve added 15 other local businesses and we are going to push that out. Hopefully we are looking to get involved with orientation more because a lot of students find out about OSA when they go to OSA assemblies and are involved in a club or maybe they’re starting a club. I don’t think that’s when students should figure it out that we have a student government. It could be something as simple as giving a pamphlet to freshmen that says we have a bus system for free paid for by us [or] we have student legal services if you have any legal issues.
In an Advance-Titan article, Bryan Carter, the former OSA vice president candidate said that OSA elections are made to be biased and work in the organizations favor. How do you feel about that quote?
When people vote, they are obviously biased. I don’t believe the OSA election bylaws were biased. It handles every single candidate the same way as they were written … I understand where he is coming from.
What are your hopes for the future election with this new bylaw?
I’m hoping it works. Every time we get a new election bylaw … when it comes up, everything looks fine but it’s when you actually put it to use is when you see this is unfair or we need to change this. I’m hoping there’s a lot less of that and it is overall more positive. It’s obviously not perfect. There’s a lot of holes that we missed. I’m hoping for a larger turnout and good candidates.
Content in this interview has been cut and edited for length.