We heard what the candidates had to say. We saw their campaigns all over campus. We eagerly anticipated the dawn of a new leadership and didn’t waste time marking our ballots. Quite honestly, we rocked that vote.
And now we’re supposed to rock it again.
The suspension of the Associated Students Senate elections, the fault of which was reportedly an incomplete e-mail list of current students, must have been tough to handle for everyone involved. It was probably just a simple mistake, but there was definitely some thunder stolen from this election that is going to be hard to recover. (The thief of that thunder? Spring Break.)
We sympathize with the candidates for having to go back to the drawing board. Hopefully the candidates took the hiatus as extra time to gain more voting support, but it couldn’t have been easy to hear that all their work for the past few weeks was technically null and void.
Apart from all the effort that may or may not have been wasted, however, what must be even more frustrating is trying to rally the students to vote again—especially since many of them didn’t even know an election was going on in the first place.
Last year’s voting turnout was 24 percent, which means a large majority of almost 7,000 students didn’t vote—almost deflating the notion that candidates are elected because they represent the entire campus.
Believe it or not, participating in student government—either as a voter, a senator or simply a student in Darwin Quad that wants to be heard—makes a difference. Sure, the Associated Students candidates can’t promise to increase funding for academics or there will never be a tuition increase again. But there are a lot of things they do have control of, and their success is much stronger when they have more voices to hear from.
Take the Academic Success Fee, for example, which the administration finally shelved a few weeks ago. Perhaps President Ruben Armiñana was swayed by “#WTFee” written in chalk all over the campus, maybe he listened directly to students’ complaints, and maybe he even read our editorial asking him to forget about it.
But the one thing that can definitely be attributed to the defeat of the fee was the Associated Students’ efforts in informing the campus. They held information sessions, talked to students individually, urged people to voice their opinions and relayed the campus’ concerns to the administration. In fact, both Armiñana and Provost Andrew Rogerson said multiple times they would not proceed with the fee if Associated Students were in favor of it. And because a large majority of students told Associated Students they didn’t support the fee, subsequently neither did Associated Students.
While we have been successful in steering clear from any devastating financial news since the passing of Proposition 30 in November 2012, we are still living in a state where the future of higher education is continually uncertain. Maybe some rich person will come in and actually donate money toward education instead of the construction of another building, improving our class availability; maybe we’ll hit another recession and see a devastating decrease in our student population. Honestly, anything could happen, and we don’t always have control over it.
But we do have some control over who will represent us when the good, the bad and the ugly happen.
Do your campus a favor; even if you already voted in the original election and are frustrated your vote didn’t count, just take another five minutes and vote one more time. If you didn’t vote, visit www.sonoma.edu/as to learn more about what student government does on a weekly basis to make sure you’re being spoken for.
If, for some reason, you still don’t see the point, just remember: you can’t complain if you didn’t vote.