As we all know, the 2016 presidential election is coming and everyone is familiar with the process. But what about the Associated Students (AS) election? As some students might not know every year AS, or Associated Student Government gives students the opportunity to run for student positions within the organization.
Each semester, $89 of your tuition goes to AS funded events and services. AS helps students establish clubs, gives various student educational services and brings us the Farmer’s Market every Tuesday. AS is an integral part of the CSUN community and the election becomes a great deciding factor for student opportunities.
Even though AS spends $371,230 in total for AS marketing, the spring 2015 AS election only had a little over 10 percent student vote. AS during the election term attempted to use In-N-Out Burger as a gameplay to incentivize student voting. Despite their efforts, out of the entire CSUN campus 4,316 people voted.
The results for the spring 2015 election yielded 3,113 votes for Jorge Reyes and his Vice President Sevag Alexanian and 1,203 for Lucas Fehring and his Vice President Vlad Arutyunov.
Lucas Fehring and his Student Voices slate emphasized the need for sustainability initiatives during this drought and “heavily incentivizing carpooling and using software other universities such as UCLA, Cal Poly Pamona, UCSB and Stanford [have implemented].”
Fehring spoke passionately about sustainability and parking congestion having worked on the AS Sustainability Committee and acted as a volunteer research assistant for the Institute of Sustainability and the Transportation Working Group 5. Reyes has been in a number of student organization such as New Student Orientation Program, Matador Camp, Radio Television Digital News Association and the Greek Community.
Reyes, our new 2015-2016 AS President ran on the Strength in Unity slate. One of Reyes’s main points was the 100-day-initiative. The plan is 100 classrooms in 100 days to educate students about AS and how they could get involved, which will eventually increase student voters. The initiative sounds great, but in reality, this not an effective plan to involve students.
The reason the 100-day initiative is not going to accomplish its goal is because it simply does not require the students to do anything. The most important aspect about AS are the students it represents, and not utilizing their interests wastes the very reason AS was founded.
If AS reached out to students using their interests to get them involved, the voter turnout would be very different.
Make students do something. Make them participate in the process. Lecturing students is too passive to generate interests. Some might say that there is really no need for AS to change its strategy but there are lot of problems with weak student voter turnout.
The main issue is that the smaller student voter turnout means that the demographic voting does not represent the whole campus. Candidates can take advantage of this and target specific groups for support which limits the interests represented by the candidate. The power relationship between the AS government and its constituents are no longer equal.
Instead of lecturing students, a great way to make voting attractive is to target student self-interest. An effective way California State University, Chico maintains a stronger voter turnout is by the program Revenue Sharing. A student can allocate up to $15 of their Activity Fee to a list of eligible clubs and organizations once they have voted. CSUC students can pledge $7.50 to two organizations or five dollars to three organizations.
The CSUC AS election results yielded 4,625 votes out of 17,287 students which is 26.7 percent in total. A great aspect of this program is clubs and organizations will encourage students to vote. Fundamentally, AS would not have to spend any money in generating interest because clubs and organization would do that for AS.
Instead of fighting a battle against voter apathy, use what interests students and tailor that into a strategy. In this way the students out of their own volition are voting, which will help increase student voter turnout. AS should not be the only one advertising the election because that is extremely inefficient and proven ineffective. In addition AS should help cultivate a Matador identity, promoting school spirit.
Big Show does not necessarily fulfill this role, but instead AS should have uniforms or something to identify student government officers, and participate in campus life. A great method would be providing food or coffee during finals, or bottled water on hot days, or generally being around campus.
Whether or not students are aware the AS election process, AS will continue to be a vital part in CSUN’s campus community. AS allocates this 2015-2016 budget $164,000 worth for University Scholarships which provides many financially disadvantaged students opportunities. The election remains significant for every student and increasing the voting demographic is important for a healthy campus.