ASUCD needs to address student apathy
Of the 35,415 undergraduate students who attend UC Davis, a mere six felt inspired enough to run for the six open Senate positions in the Fall Election.
This news raised concerns within the Editorial Board regarding the apathy that many students feel toward getting involved in student government and whether ASUCD is doing enough to promote itself and its agenda. We believe it’s important to reignite the conversation about student government in academics and campus life.
Though the dismal candidate turnout has removed the incentive to vote and rendered the ballot futile, the student body can still take an active stance to get to know tomorrow’s leaders and hold them accountable to their platforms. For instance, consider attending the Candidate Debate on Monday, Nov. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the CoHo to challenge the candidates’ viewpoints on issues that matter.
Despite the apparent lack of enthusiasm shown by the student body in getting involved with student government, ASUCD influences the daily life of every student and therefore deserves attention. Some of the indifference toward the Senate can be attributed to a lack of knowledge about the critical role it plays in the maintenance of common ASUCD units on campus. The Senate oversees a $13 million budget that funds popular units such as the CoHo, the Bike Barn and Unitrans.
Many students find these units integral to their success and notice areas that need improvement and yet, candidate and voter turnouts continue to suffer because very few seek out student government as the solution.
ASUCD shoulders much of the blame for student apathy. But getting things done is a two-way street. To fund new and beneficial units and develop policies that create true change, senators require the input of their constituents. Students must be vigilant about issues on campus and areas where they want to see change as well as be proactive in bringing those issues to the attention of their senators. Attending weekly ASUCD Senate meetings is one way to place items on the political agenda. Students can also voice their concerns during senators’ office hours, which go largely unattended, or simply send an email to the Senate Listserv at firstname.lastname@example.org. Senators, for their part, should be actively promoting their office hours and maintaining an engaging presence beyond campaigning. Students and senators can work together to formulate spending or policy bills, which make an impact on the quality of student life.
When students are given a platform and are allowed to exercise power, we should make sure that they represent the student population and its needs in the best way possible. While the student body may not have willingly elected these candidates, it still falls to us apply public pressure to ensure that the senators feel an obligation to stand by their campaign promises.
In other words, let’s hold them to higher standards and settle for nothing less.
Written By: The California Aggie Editorial Board