Committed to greater inclusion and increased participation, the Student Government Association and its accompanying Election Commission will hold a non-mandatory informational meeting this Thursday for those interested in serving in student government, regardless of prior involvement.
"(We want to) maybe reach out to people who aren't necessarily involved in SGA right now," said Election Commissioner and SGA Chief of Staff John Keny. "Maybe give them a chance to come in and ask questions and see if this is something they maybe do want to get involved with."
Whether or not students choose to become involved, Keny said he's looking forward to heavier interaction between representative and constituent.
"But (students) now know we're here and (they can) put some faces to some names as well with this, and they can ... know who to call in the future and maybe see the process and understand it better as it begins to happen in the spring as well."
Keny mentioned that SGA also hopes to "increase the visibility of all campaigns" this year and "encourage dialogue" across campaign lines.
This year, the Election Commission is launching its first "Vols Need" campaign, an effort to solicit student ideas and opinions.
"We went forward really trying to get good ideas ... and trying to change things so that people on campus weren't so apathetic about elections in general," said Jordan Frye, another Election Commission member and a junior in social work.
With additional input, Frye said he believes SGA will gain more than politicians.
"I think the more people you have running, the more awareness the student body will have about elections," Frye said," the more involvement you're going to have and the more perspectives."
Noting low attendance at this meeting in past years, Lindsay Lee, a member of the Election Commission and a senior in math and Spanish, said widespread student participation – as with the gender-neutral housing bill and the dining services proposal – allows SGA to work more effectively.
"With a higher voter turnout, we'll ultimately have more students taking an active role in conversations about campus issues through SGA," Lee said, "which will in turn increase students' interest in SGA elections.
"The more students that can be involved in that conversation, ... the better campus will be."
While the 2013 SGA elections saw a 25 percent voter participation – an SGA record – the commissioners are working to exceed last year's turnout.
As Frye and Keny mentioned, the commission is not advertising for a specific campaign but for the election itself.
"We're just trying to get involvement," Frye said. "Because in the end that's really all that matters, that the most amount of people are heard.
"... It's not just to get somebody elected into the office."
The interest meeting will take place in the UC's Shiloh Room at 7 p.m.