ASUCD makes important decisions about campus, so consider candidates and ballots carefully and encourage others to vote
Seven hundred and sixty-two students voted in the ASUCD elections this past fall quarter. To put that into perspective, there are over 30,000 undergraduate students who can vote — voter turnout was under 3%.
All students, regardless of their level of involvement in ASUCD, should acknowledge that this low voter turnout is a problem and work to combat it. Part of this recent lack of engagement likely stems from the upheaval of daily life during COVID-19. ASUCD affiliates have made an effort to address this issue, and hopefully it manifests in some capacity this election season.
If you’re reading this and did not know about the election, here are some starting points we suggest. You can check out elections.ucdavis.edu to vote and learn a bit about elections as well as the candidates and measures. If you take a look at our website next week, you can also check out our election coverage, which will include the Editorial Board’s endorsements. The Editorial Board interviews all candidates who respond to our interview requests, asking them questions about their platforms and qualifications. As a group that is able to interact with all (or almost all) candidates, we have an opportunity that not all 30,000 students have and ask tough questions that inform our suggestions as to whom you should consider voting for.
Some of you may already be active voters in ASUCD elections. If that’s the case, we encourage you to go out of your way to convince less engaged peers to consider voting. After all, the student leaders who are elected represent all undergraduates, even the ones who don’t vote. Students who don’t make their voices heard by voting may not see the on-campus outcomes they want — selecting candidates whose platforms align with what they want to see can be a powerful step in advocating for change.
Moreover, the more students that vote, the more students are actually represented. We don’t doubt that members of student government aim to represent everyone, but that has to be difficult when over 90% of students aren’t providing their input. Having such a large undergraduate community presumably means there is diversity in beliefs and opinions. It is in part up to student leaders to seek out more voices to inform their decision making, but at the same time, it is up to each student to provide their input — through voting and other ways of being engaged on campus.
This quarter, the ballot includes non-binding measures on the student fees funding athletics programs — a topic that gained attention across campus in the wake of the elimination of for-credit physical education classes. If this measure is passed, there will not necessarily be any direct administrative action to eliminate the fees; however, it will provide university administrators and student leaders insight into how students feel.
For students who feel strongly one way or another, voting — and getting other people to vote — is critical. Frankly, if only 762 (or around that) students vote, it doesn’t provide much information for either student leaders or university administration. Students should tell their peers that this measure is on the ballot, guide them to informational resources and try to convince them to vote; if there is a significant increase in voter turnout, leaders can move forward with discussions and action that actually reflects what most students want — which should be the goal.
Making informed decisions is an important aspect of this too. A friend telling you to vote for a candidate or to vote “No” on a certain measure doesn’t mean you should just take it at face value. Check out candidates’ platforms if available on the elections website and try to read the language of the measures. Our “Meet the Candidates” interviews can also provide digestible information about candidates’ platforms. And as we mentioned above, you can also check out the Editorial Board’s endorsements — whether or not you agree with our assessments, they are based on our interviews with candidates and may provide some additional insight.
Voting in the ASUCD elections is a relatively easy process and grants all undergraduate students the opportunity to bring about change that affects not only us but also those who will come after us. After all, senators in term during the spring quarter budget hearings vote for the following academic year’s budget. And voting on fees can impact students years from now too, as we have seen recently with the two fees related to UC Davis Athletics (SASI & CEI).
Week seven is a pretty busy time for many with midterms and other commitments, but taking the time to vote is incredibly important. Make sure you vote and spread the word!
Written by: The Editorial Board