Students have no reason they should not voteBy John David Thompson | 03/02/2015 10:53pm
Students at The University of Alabama should care more about Student Government Association elections. Voter apathy across America is a problem, and our campus is certainly no exception.
The voting process for SGA could not be simpler. It’s so easy, you can do it while in bed. Yet last year, only 30 percent of the student body voted. With candidates’ social media campaigns and editorials in The Crimson White throughout election campaign week, there is simply no excuse for not being informed.
The argument that the SGA “does not affect me” or “my vote won’t change anything” is also a flawed argument. The SGA does affect all UA students. The recently proposed Spirit of Alabama Act, which would add a $12.50 fee per semester, should help more students realize this. There are other avenues by which the SGA affects students. For example, they fund grants for student research, run the Got Meals program and provide need-based scholarships. Also, the final, successful integration of the University can partly be attributed to the Student Government Association.
A detailed look at last year’s election results reveals that in SGA elections, every vote does count. Furthermore, it shows just how apathetic the UA electorate is. In particular, the Arts and Sciences senate race had a very narrow margin: just two votes separating the last elected senator from the first un-elected senator. In the School of Social Work, there was a margin of only one vote. Furthermore, while Hamilton Bloom, current SGA president, won 62 percent of votes, he only received 6,378.
This year, there are only two contested elections for the Executive Council: president and vice president of student affairs. With only these two positions, it is not hard to research the candidates for both positions and make an informed decision. If these candidates are going to take the time and effort to run, we owe it to them to evaluate the platforms they have presented, and choose which we think is best.
Fifty years ago, people died in Selma, Alabama, fighting for their right to vote. As students, part of the way we can honor their legacy is voting in SGA elections, as well as in the general elections. As students, we are limited in our capacity to make changes on this campus. The SGA is an avenue for changing The University of Alabama. Elections give us an opportunity to affect that change, rather than complain about its effectiveness. Throughout the year, students express praise and disgust with the SGA. Election day is the day to make an impact. Take advantage of the opportunity to let your voice be heard and make every vote count.
John David Thompson is a sophomore majoring in political science. His column runs weekly.