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Voting for Student Bar Association Senators: A Matter of Seconds

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Joe Wasserkrug, a first-year student at Miami Law, voted Monday in the SBA elections. Two young men sitting with him on The Bricks were too pressed for time.

For some first-year students, heavy workloads take precedence over casting ballots. "I'll get to it tomorrow," Jesse Klein said as he prepared for an evening Torts class.

His friend Brendan Ryan barely glanced up from his law book, its pages streaked with yellow highlighter. "First, I need to study," Ryan said. "Then I'll vote."

Kevin Yombor, running for one of six first-year senatorial seats, said time should not be an issue. "Voting takes 35 seconds, 40 seconds, tops," he said. The online process, he went on, takes just a few clicks of a mouse. First, login to myum and click the Life-at-UM tab; then, at the bottom, click on the area that reads law school election. "It's that easy," Yombor said.

While first-year students are just getting their bearings, second-year students have found themselves in an unexpected special election. Two candidates did not return to Miami Law this fall. Instead of appointing replacements to fill their seats, SBA President Jihan Soliman and her board members decided to let students make the choices. Still, some students said they felt that a few candidates may be less concerned about the needs of their fellow students than about dressing up their resumes.

"They always try to promise too much," said Amanda Gavelek, sitting at a table with another 2L student, Courtney Karnes. They recalled that last year some candidates promised to fix the less than desirable parking situation and install cameras in the lots. "The parking has been this bad since I was an undergrad," Gavelek said. "And where are the cameras?"

Gavelek and Karnes said they want more mentoring opportunities with alumni and more career-focused networking events. Despite their frustrations, both women voted.

Over the years, Dean of Students Janet E. Stearns has also challenged SBA members to do more, cautioning elected officials "to not get distracted with social events that take a lot of time, focus and energy."

Genevieve Valle, a current SBA senator, agreed with Dean Stearns' call to action and with the students who are asking for more on the part of their senators. But, in return, she would like students to step up, too. She wants people to bring their opinions to meetings.

"It's like take a penny, leave a penny," Valle said. "Everyone has to contribute."

For her part, Soliman had one message for incoming senators. "Whoever gets elected, they are going to have a lot of work to do."

To see some election candidates, click here.