OPINION: Can we eliminate ASPC apathy?

A drawing of a person standing on a stage at a podium with the word “Prez” written on it. The person’s face is a grey circle with a question mark in it. The stage is decorated with banners and confetti, and there are blue curtains with the Pomona logo on them.
(Sasha Matthews • The Student Life)

On Sept. 12, I was left underwhelmed as the results of the ASPC elections drifted listlessly across my phone screen. The elections, held in the second week of the school year, featured students gunning for First-year Class President, North Campus representative and South Campus representative.

Coming from a high school where students had little say in the functioning of student government and lacked real power in affecting change around the school, it was easy for me to fall into the same attitude of disillusionment and apathy toward ASPC elections.

Other first-years I spoke to shared this mindset and it was hard for us to believe that our votes would count toward any meaningful change. This is an alarming thought about an institution meant to serve us for the next four years. As I witnessed in my old school, students are less likely to speak up when there’s a problem and less likely to believe that their situations will improve. This, in turn, prevents ASPC from finding solutions.

Some first-years — like myself — especially lack the motivation or incentive to vote, considering that many barely know their own candidates. Having arrived on campus less than a month before the election, many of the names on the ballot were complete strangers to me. Doubts about their motivations for running and their competence were inevitable. And to many of us, the election outcome didn’t matter since we could not know how any of the candidates would fare in their desired position.

We hardly knew them as students, let alone as our future representatives, since the campaign period lasted a mere six days in total. This is hardly enough time for candidates to familiarize themselves with future constituents. Adding to that was a general feeling of confusion as students only had a vague idea of what these roles actually entailed.

There was also the issue of accessibility regarding the candidate forum. The forum, held at Rose Hills Theater, helped connect candidates with the student body, but some students could not attend due to other commitments. ​​This was dismaying, as the forum was one of our few chances to meet with candidates. There also seemed to be many apparent solutions to this problem, such as recording the forum or holding the election speeches in dining halls as in previous years.

These feelings of apathy around elections and ASPC are further amplified by the fact that upperclassmen have told me about their experiences of being unable to achieve their campaign goals. Paper towels in bathrooms, better heat mitigation measures — all of these are recurring issues. The lack of success in solving such common problems, whether due to structural barriers or the fact that these measures were not prioritized, has contributed to an indifference from the student body towards ASPC. Many of these unfulfilled promises boil down to the fact that there simply isn’t enough time in a year to see projects to the finish line.

“I am a little disillusioned every year because if it’s a changing body you’re always going to be set back a little bit,” Nathan Flores PO ’26 told me. “Last year we had a lot of momentum going at the very end [of the year] because we all understood what we had to do, but now we have to start over. So there’s always this continuity issue.”

Flores previously served as South Campus representative and now serves as commissioner of the Equity and Inclusion committee.

Regardless, I believe that Pomona students do not have to remain stuck in their apathy. The best way we can combat this is through our own involvement in student affairs. 

The student body is integral to ASPC’s functions. We can exercise our power to its fullest by attending ASPC senate meetings on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Smith Campus Center.

We can start petitions for paper towels in bathrooms, better access to mental health services, more day trips and more if we believe we are not being heard. We can send out mass emails to senate members, spread the word on particular issues through Instagram and mobilize as best we can. Rather than relying on representatives alone — some of whom may not realize the priorities of the student body — it is also up to us to get our message across.

Communication goes both ways. Representatives should also uphold their commitment to serving the student body by sending out anonymous surveys through email asking for student concerns. They should also have multiple avenues of communication — letting the student body know when, where and on which platforms they can be contacted, for example.

Students also have the option of directly involving themselves in student affairs through ASPC’s many committees, including the Equity and Inclusion Committee, Food Committee and Residence Halls Committee. There are also various smaller positions within ASPC, such as the senate aide position.

Both ASPC and the student body have the same goals. But ensuring that these goals are carried out requires us to go the extra mile to eliminate the impassivity around APSC.

Anjali Suva PO ’27 is from Orange County, California. She loves watching horror films, reading fantasy books and just about anything that allows her to avoid touching grass.

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