Reach Out and Vote
Voter apathy toward ASI election
March 14, 2006 5:48 PM
Not many SF State students know that they will soon have a newly elected student government.
There were no massive banners publicizing the Associated Students Inc. election, which ran from March 13 to March 15. Some students said the current student government and the two contesting parties are to blame for the low-key campaign.
“If you’re really running for something, you should let everybody know,” said junior Karla Valencia, 21, who was working at the voting station in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. “I think it’s really bad because not everyone knows about the election.”
“The present administration does not market the elections,” said Halperin, who is running for vice president of External Affairs.
On March 15, students working at the voting booths said traffic was slow, with only 20 to 40 voters every five hours.
“The success or failure of this election is truly reflected on the election commissioner and the leadership development coach,” said ASI President Christopher Jackson.
There were purple banners in the Student Center notifying the campus population about the election since late February, said ASI Leadership Development Coordinator Horace Montgomery.
He said that the contesting parties were responsible for promoting the election.
“Just having a sign and a T-shirt isn’t enough,” Montgomery said. “You have to personally engage people to vote.”
In last year’s ASI election, there were 4,257 votes – about 15 percent of the 28,950 students in the fall, according to the SF State Web site.
Compared to other universities, the 2005 campus election turnout was “one of the biggest in the state,” said Jackson, ASI president.
Student votes have fluctuated over the years.
In the 2001 election, 1,369 students voted. The number increased to 2,488 the next year, and dropped to 1,958 in 2003. And in 2004, about 1,921 students cast their ballots, according to ASI.
The unofficial ASI election tally will be released March 20, and finalized by March 22.
At the Student Center, history major Jose Cruz walked past the voting tables and headed straight to the SF State bookstore. The junior student said he will never vote in ASI elections.
Cruz added that the candidates were not interested in the campus population.
“I find that these (candidates) are trying to gain power so they can put it in their resume,” he said. “Whatever they do really has no effect on me.”
The voting trend at SF State is a reflection of citizen participation in national elections, said Penny Saffold, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students.
“People need to take that kind of responsibility and use their votes to have a say in the life on campus,” she said.
Saffold said there was an increase in student votes since the university placed extra voting stations on campus in 2004. In addition to the Student Center, SF State students also voted in front of the Humanities and Business buildings.
Students Fighting 4 U (SF4U) presidential candidate, Maire Fowler, said students should vote and take interest in how their $42 student body association semester fee was being spent.
“People who don’t vote, don’t care where their money is going,” said Fowler, adding that ASI acts as a liaison between students and the administration.
Some students said voting does not improve their campus life.
It does not prevent tuition hikes, said clinical science major Ozelle Sigua, who voted in her freshman year.
On the first election day, the 24-year-old student said she did not intend to vote this year.
“It’s like a popularity contest,” said Sigua, adding that no student president could accomplish much in a one-year term.
This year’s election campaign is more mellow, said Office of Student Affairs staff member,
Industrial art student Dionne Long-Mosley said she heard about the ASI election via an e-mail sent by the Office of Student Affairs.
Those who know about the campaign on campus had no excuse for not voting, the 25-year-old student said.
She added that ASI’s actions affect students.
“If we are not going to voice our opinion either for ourselves, or have someone do it for us by voting for them, then we can’t complain,” Long-Mosley said.
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