Today marks the start of this year’s student election period at UiA. STA strives for a voter turnout of up to 22 per cent.
“We need to increase voter turnout. Last year, only 6.1% of students voted, and we are not satisfied with that. This year, we all agree that we need to increase it,” says Maiken Køien Andersen.
She is the leader of STA - the Student Organization of Agder. Over the next nine weeks, until the elections on 20 April, most of her time will be spent planning, initiating, organising, and motivating the nearly 14,000 students at UiA to run as candidates and exercise their right to vote.
Nearly 80 different positions need to be filled in this year’s student elections - 25 permanent spots in the Student Parliament in addition to substitutes, and the rest are positions in the university’s faculty and teacher education unit boards. The term runs for one year from autumn 2024, and through these positions, students influence the development of the university and its faculties.
The stated goal is to have enough candidates to have real elections for the positions and to increase voter turnout.
“We haven’t set a specific percentage goal, but turnout needs to increase, ideally to the same levels as in 2010, when 22% voted - the highest turnout in the university’s history. I think it’s good to strive for that,” says the STA president.
To achieve this, the students and STA need to take action.
“We need to be more visible than before, with more active stands in more places on campus, more posters and banners, and more good conversations in the cafeteria and all other meeting places. We want to mobilise as broadly as possible, as we believe it will increase engagement and voter turnout,” says Andersen.
“This is important! The higher the voter turnout, the stronger our mandate and influence over our student experience. That’s what it’s all about.”
When it comes to the issues that the student leader wants to highlight during the election period, she is broad in scope.
“No issue is too small to be discussed. Anything that can improve the study experience is worth talking about. That’s how it should be, because even though we often discuss exchange programmes, artificial intelligence, university pedagogy, the plagiarism case, and other big issues that concern us, the big picture is what is most important,” says the STA president.