It’s once again time to start the process of electing the officers of the Associated Students. I find myself wondering, as I’m sure many of my peers ask themselves when confronted with such elections, why I should really care.
Associated Students, for those who are unaware, is CSUN’s form of student government. They represent us in dealings with faculty and administration, and are also the group in charge of things like intramural sports, the Fitness Center, and certain special events on campus like the annual “Big Show.”
However, the simple fact of the matter is very few people actually know, or care for that matter, what it is A.S. does. There are those in clubs and sports who deal with A.S. on a regular basis, but for most of the student population the most obvious effect of A.S. are the fees. I consider myself among the population of people pretty well informed about the goings on at CSUN, but even I find it pretty hard to care about A.S. enough to vote.
That’s not to say A.S. is entirely unimportant. I’m sure that, like a mother taking care of her children, A.S. does the housework that, if they were to suddenly disappear, could quickly grind our academic life to a halt. Something would change. I’m just not sure what.
One thing is for sure, though. The vast majority of students can’t be bothered to vote. Even though the polls are open for two days, both on campus and online, only about 2,000 students showed up at the fall A.S. election when A.S. proposed a fee increase. At best, A.S. elections usually only have a voter turnout of about 10 percent. For comparison, national elections get around 36 percent voter turnouts at their worst.
Part of the problem with getting people to care about A.S. elections is the relatively short amount of time most students are at CSUN. Over the next few years we become increasingly busy with our studies. During this time, the majority of students don’t even spend most of their time on campus, instead opting to commute. And once we graduate, A.S. no longer affects us at all. It’s no wonder something like student government is neglected at CSUN.
This begs the question of whether it’s actually a bad thing to have such a low voter turnout. Of course, everyone should be a part of deciding who will represent them in governments both large and small, especially when those governments send others to represent them.
The difficulty comes when the voters don’t know the difference between what they may be voting for and what they should be voting for. It’s far too easy for an election to degrade into a popularity contest. Elections only work when the voters are well informed. At least the way things are now, those who know the most about A.S. are those who are deciding its future.