Student Government election polls closed Wednesday afternoon and anticipation was high for both candidates. The Johnson and Olson campaign won with 355 votes out of a total of 613 votes. The Mitchell and Kennedy campaign scored 236 votes.
A recent poll taken by St. Cloud State students shows that 69 percent of students voted for the Johnson/Olson ballot while only 31 percent of students voted for the Mitchell/Kennedy campaign. This was the highest voter turnout in Student Government elections in the last five years.
There were a lot of topics discussed by each party, looking to fix issues on campus such as budget cuts, student diversity and freshmen retention rates.
For the past few years, retention rates at Minnesota state colleges and universities have been significantly low. This means that a lot of first-year students only stay one year before they decide to transfer or drop out.
Going to college can be a dramatic change in someone’s life. Being thrown into an unfamiliar environment with a whole new mix of people and perspectives is enough to send some into culture shock.
Both campaigns addressed this problem on campus because Student Government and Administration want to find out why retention rates are staggering. “I don’t think a lot of people are going to school much anymore, either they can’t afford it or they stay a year and find that college isn’t necessarily the right place for them, I think a really important thing for us is just making sure that first year students feel comfortable on our campus” Mikaela Johnson said.
A few years ago, St. Cloud State put out the Mapworks Survey, an online personal exam that evaluates how students are doing socially and academically throughout their first year in college. The data taken from the Mapworks Survey divides up the retention rates based on whether a student was in honors, what race they are and whether they were let into the university under a certain condition.
According to Amber Schultz, who works in the office of Marketing and Recruitment, the data hasn’t changed much in the last 15-20 years.
“It is very hard to predict based on the profile of the student whether they will stay past their first year. If you’re an honors student, you will most likely have a higher retention rate than someone who’s not.”
Schultz also said a big part of retention is involvement on campus. If a student finds a club to get involved in, it is more likely they will have a higher retention rate.
Mikaela said she has done a lot of work with Huskies First Four, a program that helps incoming students get acquainted with the university in order to make them feel more welcome and comfortable and also to get them involved with more student organizations.
“With the budget cuts that have been going on, we want to make sure that students still have opportunities to join student organizations that best suit them. That is what is really going to make them want to stay,” Johnson said.
Randall Olson agrees with his running-mate, saying that if we can pair students up with organizations that best fit their majors, it’s going to make their degree more marketable—and help the university.
An organization that helps out a lot with student engagement at St. Cloud State is the Department of Campus Involvement.
“If you are not interested in any student organizations on campus, we have events going on every single week to keep students engaged, whether it’s guest speakers, movies or other cultural nights and special events,” said Tommy Balker, Associate Director of the Department of Campus involvement.