Low turnout not the fault of student apathy
Surely the student body wanted to be optimistic about this year’s elections. It wanted to do the right thing and vote for a student body president and vice president who would accurately reflect its needs and desires. Instead, much of the student body as a whole just said, ‘Nah, forget it,’ and didn’t vote. However, the student body is not to blame for the apathy this election cycle elicited; the blame can likely be placed on an election marked by scandals and lack of candidate visibility to most students.
This apathy is evidenced by the low voter turnout of just 3,361 participating in the first round of this year’s elections. Last year, the first round garnered 4,969 votes, with the runoff election netting 4,098 votes. If previous years are any indication, the runoff election between the Frank Harrison/Faran Abbasi ticket and the Ben Sens/Ernest “EJ” Joe ticket is going to have less votes as well.
It is a shame most students did not feel the need to vote in this year’s election. Student Government is something that students should care about and probably want to care about. However, it is more difficult to care when the very governing body that the students are supposed to be putting their trust in shows itself to be less than trustworthy and responsible.
The copious amount of re-voting on the funding of the Greek Week Concert, the failure to confirm members of the Election Rules Committee and the election’s continuance after the SG Supreme Court said that the election should be postponed are just some examples that may have left students wondering whether SG is a cohesive, working unit. They may have felt frustrated and wondered why they should even bother to vote at all.
Also, students may not feel as if issues they are concerned about – namely the heavy burden of fees – are being dealt with. To remedy this, SG held an open forum in front of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center to hear student grievances and opinions. This was a step in the right direction. To rebuild credibility among students, SG needs to make itself available in these ways so that all students – not just those who live on campus – may have a chance to have their voices heard.
SG should not be upset with students for the low turnout of voters in this round of elections. Instead, SG should take what it has learned from the mistakes of this semester and move forward, always keeping in mind that the number one goal of SG is to meet the needs of the students it serves.