According to ASUM bylaws, the Montana Kaimin cannot release the names of candidates for senate, business manager, and president/vice president positions until campaigning officially starts April 15.
University of Montana students will vote for six more senate positions than last year in the Associated Students of the University of Montana primary election April 24.
“Twenty-six people means we have six more people out there gathering opinion and fighting for student groups,” said Bryn Hagfors, ASUM vice president.
As the student government, ASUM supports UM's student groups and provides services to students through it's sponsored agencies. UM students voted last election to add six more senate positions. With the extra positions, the 34 candidates who have filed will have a better chance to be elected.
“I see it as expanding the opportunity to represent students,” Hagfors said.
President Zach Brown said senators elected to office have unique access to a lot of different aspects of campus, including regular meetings with UM administration and Montana's Board of Regents.
“(ASUM) is a hub for services that affect students every day,” Brown said. “Students who want to grow as leaders and impact the everyday lives of their peers should run to be a part of ASUM.”
Many of the senate candidates this year are running because of contentious issues, he said.
“Higher One is on a lot of people's minds,” Hagfors said. “A lot of people are looking to see that Foresters' Ball succeeds and make it a positive experience. There's also those people who just think they can have a unique voice in the ASUM body.”
ASUM opens a lot of doors for students who want to be involved, said senator Stevie Freund. The junior double major in management information systems and international development studies isn't running for reelection this spring. Freund said she plans to get involved with a lot of the student groups she represented as a senator.
“My main goal out of college is to join the Peace Corp, so I want to work with groups that can help me in that pursuit,” Freund said. “I really just want to hone in on what can really prepare me for my future.”
Freund said she is a firm believer in making the most out of every opportunity available in college. The senate takes a lot of time, but offers students so many benefits.
“I had a really great time this year and I was able to take a lot of the opportunities and grow from them, and it's time to give other people the chance to do it to,” Freund said.
Hagfors said many senators choose to not run again because of other academic opportunities, heavy course loads or graduation.
ASUM also had two president/vice president teams file for election and three people for the business manager position. The business manager position will be a highly contested race for this year's executive team, said ASUM business manager Micah Nielsen.
Nielsen said her position has changed substantially in the last year, which has attracted a lot of student attention and will make an interesting race.
“The position has been made more attractive lately, it's no longer being a third wheel to ASUM like in the past,” Nielsen said. “It's got substance now - the position is part of the executive team.”
The business manager deals with student groups and ASUM agencies to get the money groups and agencies need to operate. Just a few weeks ago, ASUM budgeted $1,013,150 for next fiscal year.
The executive team has really turned into a three-person leadership scenario, Hagfors said. Nielsen has given another perspective to the ASUM leadership team that didn't exist before, he said.
“Micah really took that position and made it into something really sexy,” Hagfors said. “People see that position for what it can be and want to be a part of it.”
Senators and executives have used word of mouth, social media, outreach and class presentations in the past few weeks to let students know about ASUM elections, Brown said.
“Our main focus is in making the elections competitive so that a variety of student interest groups are represented,” Brown said. “We want lots of candidates for positions, and we want a high voter turnout this year. We will do everything we can to facilitate that.”
Students wishing to run for ASUM election must register at the ASUM office in the UC, and collect petition signatures by 5 p.m. Wednesday.