The ASUCD senatorial elections start Nov. 12 and the university should be in a political frenzy, right?
So I asked my peers, are you going to vote?
I’m no statistician, but it appeared that only half of the respondents said they were planning to cast a ballot. Considering every student can vote online, I was curious why anyone wouldn’t vote if it was so convenient. Of those who said they were not going to vote, I asked why not?
“I feel like a little ant when I’m voting for politicians,” said one fourth-year student. Most answers were a variation of this powerless sentiment, claiming that their voice was silenced in the crowd.
Others who weren’t voting also thought ASUCD served no purpose, one calling the candidates “resumé-builders out for personal glory.” This view of a broken system was summarized by another student, “Does ASUCD really do anything?”
To be honest, I didn’t know what the student government did for me. Do these senators really impact my experience as an undergraduate?
I decided to go to the source, and I interviewed a senatorial candidate to ask them, why were they running? Did they really think they could make a difference?
They were convinced that the student government was crucial to campus growth, responding, “ASUCD is a tool to help students, and it can make some serious change.” They cited that Unitrans was a senator’s idea, and that the Experimental College, the Bike Barn and the Coffee House are all under the student government. Their bottom line was that their ideas could influence others to create something real.
Whether or not the specific platforms that senators are running on will be implemented is to be seen. However, free public transportation for students was once an idea, and now it’s a reality.
It appears that senators can significantly transform our campus. Yet, it seems like many are disenfranchised from our student political affairs.
Granted, not everyone can run for Senate. The average student is just trying to go to school, get good grades and get a diploma to get a job. However, if you’ve ever eaten at the CoHo or seen an Entertainment Council concert, you’ve directly benefited from ASUCD.
So does this create some sort of responsibility? If you’ve received benefits from the school, do you have an obligation to give back? How does the average student get involved? As always, I asked my fellow scholars.
Many said they don’t do much, reasserting that schoolwork is their top priority. One biology major says, “I know it’s bad not to care, but politics aren’t my thing; I’m simply too busy.”
And that’s a valid point. It is unreasonable to ask each student to storm the streets asking for revolution, especially during midterm season.
But in spite of everything, I still think we can do more. One candidate shared the sentiment that “I can’t do it alone.” Their ideas are only ideas, and they need many people on board to make one concept an actuality. (To see what the candidates are proposing to the student body, you can read their online biographies — it truly doesn’t take long to get informed).
Maybe we are all just guppies in a vast ocean. Nonetheless we all hold a piece of power that determines who speaks for us at the table.
If you would like to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with DANIEL HERMAN, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.