As I walked down UC hill on
my way home Wednesday night, I
overheard two girls discussing all
the snow advertisements on the
hill. It went something like this:
Girl A: ďWhatís all that stuff on the hill for?Ē
Girl B: ďI think itís, like, for that election thing or something.Ē
Girl A: ďOh yeah. Like Iím really gonna vote.Ē
Girl B: ďYeah, like, totally.Ē
Itís true that these two may have just been really clueless, but I think their blunt evaluation of USC elections is somewhat similar to many students. Voter apathy, particularly among students, has become a cause for great concern. Pundits try to find an easy answer and solution to the problem, but the truth is, there is no easy answer.
For some non-voters the problem may simply be that their lack of interest comes from a lack of knowledge. Through no fault of the USC itself, many students donít realize what the USC does, what it controls and operates, or where student fees go.
Getting students involved and making them aware of important issues, whether it be in a student council election or a federal election, is a baffling quagmire. Short of putting ads on beer bottles at The Ceeps, just about everything has been tried.
The recent results of the USC survey showed just how apathetic students are and how much they feel they are in the dark. Forty-five per cent of respondents said they seldom go to The Wave while 38 per cent seldom go to The Spoke. A whopping 83 per cent said they never listen to CHRW and 70 per cent said they never watch TVWestern. Another 78 per cent didnít know that a portion of their student fees goes to student lobby groups, and 66 per cent didnít know what the Womenís Issues Network does.
There is also a perception that student council elections are merely a popularity contest. I tend to disagree ó this isnít high school anymore where the most popular girl or the Mexican kid who has his dorky friend dance for him wins like in Napoleon Dynamite. Obviously, any candidate is going to get all his or her friends to vote, but that usually wonít be enough to win.
There is the odd student who is really keen and genuinely concerned about how the USC is run, and that student will take the time to hear what the candidates have to say and make an informed vote. To those students, good for you. To those who fall into the clueless category, Iíll leave you with some reasons to get informed and vote.
First, the winner will play a much bigger role than you might think. The USC has a budget of $22-million. The USC decides how that money is spent and what benefits you get from it. Second, most of the services every student uses on a daily basis are run by the USC (like this fine publication). The way those services are managed and maintained may come down to how you vote.
Finally and most importantly ó you pay a significant amount of money to the USC and your vote in part decides where that money goes. Personally, if I pay anything over $10, I like to know where it is going. If you donít vote, then you have no right to bitch.