Without picking up your phone and bowing to the knowledge of google, could you name a single person running in this semester’s Associated Students elections?
Last year, I had the opportunity to lend my efforts to the elections as part of the “street team,” the dedicated students who stand out in the elements, under a sweaty tent each election and guide voters through the process. I handed out churros. It’s not the most glamorous job, but it provides one with an insight into just how many people avoid using their voices…even with the promise of free churros as an incentive.
“Come vote!” the street team shouted. People ducked into the bookstore making excuses about needing a new pencil. “Come vote!” shouted the street team. People heard the cry and diverted their cry. “Free churro for your vote!” That got their attention.
Yet you shouldn’t need a sugary treat to coax you to spend five minutes reading a few bios, clicking a few buttons on a tablet and hitting submit. These elections control who is our representative before faculty, campus administrators and government officials. They are responsible for looking out for our well-being as students, for forging change, for the presence of the programs and services we enjoy. Who do you really want controlling that?
This year, when you see tents scattered around campus, don’t wait for the offer of free food (although I must admit, that’s always a nice bonus). Find a voting tent, pick up a tablet and make your voice heard!
Consider these elections practice for the wider world. Take a step beyond just voting for who you think is cute or that guy who sits beside you in English class; get engaged! Read the statements the candidates presented, read between the lines, see who seems like the person you most want to have speak for you. Just by the numbers, your vote holds more weight here, as a portion of the student body, than most others you will ever cast. You are voting for who controls your education, your extracurriculars, your future.
As a society, we tend towards snap decisions – a flashy smile, powerful but empty words and (apparently) orange hair can override good sense. Read carefully. Do your research. Reach into yourself and identify what is important to you. Do you want to be represented by someone from your college? Someone with experience in leadership or intentions to pursue politics? Someone who believes in fixing the same issues you’ve been grumbling to your parents about every weekend when you go home to do your laundry?
Let this be an experience to guide your voting habits as you emerge into the “real world.” As citizens, one of our greatest rights and greatest responsibilities is to vote. It may be boring, but at least it’s better than jury duty, right? There are worse responsibilities to have! Many of us are over 18, many soon to be, and this November most of us will be eligible to take part in the national midterm elections. Make a difference this week, at our school and in November; make a difference for our country.