Voters nix Concert Board fee, re-elect incumbent

After its second attempt on the ballot in as many semesters, a referendum to increase the Concert Board fee by $4 died at the polls April 11 and 12 in the student government election, as did another proposal to give stipends to USUAA representatives.

Five other referendums passed muster, however, including one that will increase the number of USUAA Senators from 19 to 23.

And for the first time in at least six years, UAA students have re-elected their president.

Anthony Rivas won a second term as student body president, though this time around he’s found a new vice president in Justice Brooks.

“I think the students made the right choice,” Rivas said. “I’ve got a lot of great ideas for next year, and the way I’m going to run things next year, I’m hoping for a more effective Senate.”

Rivas said he plans to do that by creating more senator projects, which he said give students a tangible return on their student fees. Increasing the frequency of these projects was the stimulus for the referendum to increase the number of senators, Rivas said, because more senators means more work can be accomplished.

Rivas said his top priority in office is to ensure the university is adequately funded, which he intends to accomplish through USUAA’s lobbying efforts with the Legislature in Juneau. Making sure the state fully funds education will help to drive down the costs for students, he said.

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Students also demonstrated at the polls that they are concerned about education costs. As if echoing the sentiment of the recent municipal elections, students voted no to increasing their fees.

Many students, such as Jackie Rowe, a senior majoring in biology, went to the polls to voice their opinions about the referendums, such as the Concert Board fee increase proposal, which Rowe opposed.

“A lot of students here are non traditional students,” she said. “That means they’re working; they don’t have as much time to attend student functions. I think it would be OK if maybe we increased the door price so that people who are adamant about going to those functions can pay more money for them.”

John Wilcox, a presidential challenger, said he was disappointed in the failure of the Concert Board fee, but he said he thought the students’ voice had been heard. He said he isn’t ruling out another presidential bid in the future, but for now he will return to being a senator.

“We’ve hit a record number of voters,” he said. “That’s fantastic. It’s one of the reasons that I ran in the first place – to encourage people to vote and to bring diversity to our candidacies.”

Preliminary indications show that slightly more than 1,000 students voted in the election – about a 15 percent turnout – said Liisa Morrison, USUAA’s administrative assistant.

As of the weekend, the election results were not final because they were subject to challenge until Tuesday.

Both of the Concert Board seats were filled, and one Media Board position that was open will remain vacant because nobody ran for the position.

Although there were initially eight candidates running for the 10 vacant Senate seats, two late entries filled the openings. The fact that USUAA sometimes encounters difficulty filling all of its available seats didn’t dissuade voters from increasing the number of Senate positions, however.

“I don’t think there’s a problem; if people want to be in student government, they might as well be,” said Heidi Jo Kidd, an undeclared sophomore. “If they want to do something more, they should be able to.”