CSL is 'different democratic model'
Issue date: 10/9/08 Section: News
Coastal Carolina University has more in common with Winthrop besides being a Big South rival. Winthrop's total student population, according to the College Board's Web site, is just under 6500 and Coastal's student population sets at nearly 7900. Winthrop's tuition is about $3000 more than Coastal's tuition and, both schools admit relatively the same amount of applicants per year with 70 percent and 68 percent, respectively.
One difference between Coastal and Winthrop, however, is each school's model of student government. Winthrop's format, CSL, is a unique setup compared to most colleges across the country.
Students at Coastal Carolina and a majority of other public universities popularly elect student representatives. Winthrop students do not. But Vice President for Student Life Frank Ardaiolo said the format works for Winthrop.
"I don't understand this notion of people saying they aren't being allowed to vote for representatives because there are many organizations on council who represent students such as IFC (Inter-Fraternity Council)," Ardaiolo said.
Other Big South schools, which differ from Winthrop in size and admission standards, also elect student government through campus-wide campaigns and elections. Of the ten Big South schools, Winthrop and Virginia Military Institute are the only colleges which do not hold student wide elections.
Area colleges similar to Winthrop in size, admission standards and geographic location also use a student government which is popularly elected. Francis Marion University, Augusta State University and Western Carolina University use SGA as student representation. Prior to 2001, Winthrop did have an SGA that was comprised of popularly elected leaders. Ardaiolo was a pioneer of change in replacing SGA with CSL because of a lack of student interest in the positions and elections.
Ten Winthrop organizations are represented in CSL, according to the council's constitution: GLoBAL, NAACP, Dinkins Student Union, Resident Student Association, S.O.A.R, Association of Ebonites, Student Alumni Council, student publications and three Greek organizations. One female and one male athlete also serve on the council along with annual members and a representative from each academic college. Two other positions, chair and vice chair, are elected by members of the council for one-year terms.
Taylor Eubanks, a sophomore at Coastal Carolina University, serves as a senator on the school's Student Government Association. He said Coastal's model is similar to Winthrop's format, with many organizations represented, but there is one key difference: the top four positions on SGA are elected by the entire student body, not just the existing members of student government.
"We have a mandatory number of senators from each college and interest group, but once that is full, it is open to any student as long as they maintain the required GPA and conduct standards, like no arrests," Eubanks said.
Ardaiolo said that popularly elected student governments aren't always the most efficient and not all schools in South Carolina have effective student leadership. He said Web sites such as ASGAonline.com, representing the American Student Government Association, would shed more light on how student governments should be run and why Winthrop's model, CSL, makes sense.
The site states that "all higher-education institutions…must have and fully support student-governance organizations with leaders whom are popularly elected by a majority of the student body."
Ardaiolo describes Winthrop's student government as a "different democratic model" and doesn't foresee election process changing anytime soon.
"One vote, one person does not necessarily mean you are electing the people who will do the best job," Ardaiolo said.