Editorial Board: Ending Our Electoral Apathy

It’s that apathetic time of year again, when many students forgo their chance to participate in the closest semblance of a democratic process that college offers.  

We’re accustomed to hearing students complain that their voices aren’t heard on campus, or that they don’t feel that their interests are being represented. Yet when the chance to participate in one of the most basic acts of representation arrives, it seems that many students aren’t even willing to fill out an online voting form from the comfort of their room. And if we can’t be bothered to click a drop-down menu, then it’s fairly presumptuous to expect administrators to take our other protests seriously.

Two weeks ago, we reported on the underwhelming turnout for the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College elections. It took a full fortnight for the necessary 50 percent quorum to be reached there, and students interviewed by TSL reported that it was common to vote for candidates at random. 

Voter turnout at Claremont McKenna College could also be better—as we reported, only about 64 percent of students voted in elections for the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College Executive Board. And this week, Pomona College students received a plaintive email from the Associated Students of Pomona College encouraging students to run for one of the eight positions that, until hours before the sign-up deadline, lacked any candidates whatsoever. At press time, there have still been no applicants for the junior class president position.

We recognize that student governments are not always the centers of power that students might desire. But non-participation does nothing to increase the credibility of student government, and, if anything, will serve to convince administrators that students are uninterested in democratic engagement. 

Symbolic value aside, we want to point out that student governments have a larger influence than some students realize. Funding for on-campus organizations and events depends upon the decisions of these august bodies, and those fees you pony up every year are decided and spent by them as well. Students should at the very least vote to have input on where our money goes. 

So go vote. Pomona students will get the chance this coming week, and Pitzer College will have theirs soon after. Although this year's opportunities may have passed for CMC, HMC, and Scripps College, if you attend those schools you will have an opportunity again soon enough, and we encourage you to take it. Take a small amount of time to show the administration and your peers that you care enough about the way your school is run to exercise the power that’s been offered to you, and they will be more likely to take your complaints and suggestions seriously in the future.

Of course, we recognize that 5C students are thoughtful citizens of the consortium; students are active in many communities and organizations, and we commend all of you for it. We love being a part of a campus community that is critical and self-aware. But in general, criticizing is easy, and action is hard. In this case, though, action is easy—so let's take it. Fight against the perceived apathy that provokes so much criticism against us "millenials"—we know you all aren't apathetic. Don't let campus elections be the exception.