There’s a big issue that no one running for an office in the Associated Students is talking about. Most of them don’t even want to acknowledge its existence. Simply put, there’s not much that will get the general student body out to vote.
That’s not to say they don’t try their best to get people out to vote. If confronted with the reality of this situation, the common response is to figure out a way to throw more money at the problem until it’s solved. Pretty much every excuse people could have for not voting has been covered. The booths are open for two days not just on campus but online as well. Don’t come to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays? The polls are open on Wednesdays, too. Don’t come to school on Wednesdays either? You can vote anytime during those two days online, as well. They even offer perks like food and raffles. What college student can refuse free food?
So why, then, does only 5 to 10 percent of the student population come out to vote, even at the best of times? The general term for people just not coming out is voter apathy, but I don’t think this term is correct. I don’t think the reason people don’t come out is because they just don’t care.
When you ask someone if they voted in the A.S. elections, “I don’t care what happens to A.S.” just isn’t a common answer. More often, some sort of excuse is given, for instance “I was too busy to vote” or “I already knew my side was going to win anyway.” This is almost always followed by a sheepish look away and a change of subject. I’m guilty of doing this, and I know a lot of other people, many of whom are very concerned about what happens in A.S., do the same.
To me this shows not that we don’t care, but that we’re just lazy. I know this is the case with me, anyway. I know I’m certainly a big enough critic of A.S. that I should be getting out there and actually making my voice heard, as innumerable “Rock the Vote” ads have pushed me to do. I’d like to think I’m even informed enough that I don’t feel like I would need to do extra research just to make sure I’m really voting the way I should in the election, but it’s so much easier for me to just say that I’ll do it later and go back to playing a video game.
Of course, this laziness and tendency towards procrastination isn’t restricted to just elections, though they are a very visible example. Young people in general, myself included, just don’t seem to pace themselves in their activities. I can’t say whether it was this way 30 years ago or not, but almost all the students I know today study for tests that are the very next day and write essays the night before they’re due.
While I can see the advantage of learning to bang out product overnight when necessary, it seems like a much better idea to take my time and really refine my work. On an intellectual level I completely understand this. I’m an advocate of making sure you give yourself more than enough time to finish, and yet when it comes right down to it I have the same tendency to wait until the very last minute.
Surely, if this is the real problem behind why no one goes to the polls on the voting days, we can find the solution to a lazy campus. Allowing voting online is certainly a step in the right direction. It’s pretty tough to reason away not voting when it’s available 24-hours-a-day, especially with how much time the average college student spends on the Internet.
This obviously isn’t enough, though. Even though the ability to vote is available to everyone all the time, the vast majority of students still aren’t voting. For the majority of the students, the motivation to vote simply isn’t there.
Perhaps part of it has to do with everyone telling students it’s so important for them to vote? Our generation has been flooded with messages telling us how important it is that we vote, even though it goes against all of the existentialism many of us learn as teenagers. Perhaps this unwillingness to get off our lazy ass and vote is an unconscious backlash against that?
For whatever reason, probably a different reason for each person, the fact that you can have a hand in an organization that controls about $6 million, some of it your own, just doesn’t get people moving. If that doesn’t, I don’t know what will.
This is something that no one at A.S. seems to understand. While an apathetic student body is certainly a problem, especially on a campus where a small minority of the student body is actually involved in a school activity other than classes, it isn’t their apathy but their laziness that keeps school spirit to a minimum. There’s nothing I can think of that will change that. No amount of free food or giveaways will get the student population out to vote because they would rather spend their time hanging out, watching a movie, or, god forbid, reading a book.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a video game to play.