Keep COGS elections participatory

COGS representatives

While the Council of Graduate Students represents half or fewer of the students of other governance organizations, COGS assembly meetings have comparable or higher attendance.

While generally only a few hundred graduate students — often coming mostly from several programs — have voted in all-campus elections for a graduate and professional student body president, delegates to our assembly represent thousands of students from all of our colleges.

And while having an online vote sounds like it would encourage engagement, when held up to the light the facts show that this is not always the case: This past semester alone more than 4,000 students have attended COGS events, smashing student group  records.

Some worried about a shift to a more centralized organization that would result in losing this level of engagement.

In reality, direct election without vetting is rare in University of Minnesota student governance. In this respect, our election process is far more open.

In some student government units, executive board members can be appointed or selected. In COGS, much like the Student Senate, officers must be elected.

Many faculty governance bodies and those positions with the greatest student power — student representatives to the Board of Regents, members of the Student Services Fees Committee and student members of University Senate committees — are all appointed or selected from a curated group of nominees, rather than elected.

Though students have voted for the current system — with their hands, voices and feet — we know we can do better.

We look forward to rolling out better and broader engagement and election initiatives, hearing dissenting perspectives and putting the critical issues for graduate students first.