By Anna Williams

The Student Government Association (SGA) is an engaging organization for many University of Louisville (U of L) students. For example, many Greek life members and members of the McConnell Scholars Program seem to take an interest in running for a Top 4 position in the SGA. In fact, in the 2024 election, three out of four of the top four winners are in a sorority or fraternity; two out of four are McConnell Scholars.

Despite this active engagement from these specific groups of students, the majority of U of L students seem to be less actively engaged in the work of SGA.

Low Engagement Rates

Over the years, the voting percentage among U of L students in SGA elections has been considerably low. Most U of L students are simply not interested in the inner workings of SGA. Due to the difficulty in executing many initiatives through higher-ups, the SGA ends up being an advocacy organization (unless you’re within the Top 4).

The only position that truly has university-oriented legislative power is the Student Body President. They serve on the U of L Board of Trustees, providing a direct outlet for student’s voices whenever the board meets.

What About “Real” Students?

To gain a better understanding of why this separation of interest in SGA for regular students is apparent, I had to talk to students about their views of SGA. 

When asked about how he decided who to vote for in the 2024 SGA election, class of 2026 member Haider Nasir shared with me, “I honestly voted strictly for people that I knew before, or people that had interacted and spoke with me. There were only three individuals that I had interacted with before voting. The other people I had strictly just chosen out of familiar names or if I saw their campaigns on campus.”

When asked about their voting methods, other students I polled claimed to have voted similarly to Nasir.

Name familiarity reigns as a popular voting style among students. This method, however, takes away opportunities for non-Greek life or McConnell Scholars candidates from being elected into office, due to their lack of popularity.

This familiarity voting method also discourages students from voting, especially if they have not had any interaction with candidates or if they don’t personally know anyone running for office.

This problematic reality is what causes the low voting rates among students at U of L. It’s also what causes the disparity of non-Greek life or McConnell Scholars office holders within SGA.

What Needs To Change?

If students were encouraged to vote on credentials and policy ideas instead of who knows who, I believe that more students would want to engage in the civic nature of SGA. This would increase the voting percentage and improve the quality of student advocacy when engaging with university higher-ups.

Every student should have an equal opportunity to engage in student advocacy through the SGA. The only way that will be possible is through the inclusion of all students on U of L’s campus. I encourage voters in the 2025 election to consider diversifying SGA’s personnel so that more perspectives are accounted for.

Photo Courtesy // U of L News