By Avriel Epps – Cougar News Contributor
The semester is coming to a close; some students are getting ready for graduation while others are preparing their countdown for the inevitable return of fall semester. Unfortunately, only a select few “involved” students are aware of the changes that also happen this time every year – Associated Student Government elections.
Some may have noticed the scattered banners and fliers scarcely posted around campus for elections; you may have been invited to a candidate’s Facebook page, or seen an article on Cougarnews.com, but chances are if you don’t have a friend running for office you probably don’t know or care about what’s going on. I’d put money on the fact that even if you have voted or are planning to vote that you have no real idea what your student government does for you, or what the candidate you chose plans to do for you while in office.
Where are the debates? Where are differing views on policy and how our campus government should be run? Where are the students’ platforms on advocacy, fund allocation, student representation, and grant and scholarship programs? Where are the plans to mitigate common student concerns like limited parking, cafeteria food quality and cost, access to resources like free text books and computer labs, low attendance to sporting events, and on campus social events? Do we as the students not know that these are things that student government officers concern themselves with, or do we just not care? Are we really satisfied with reducing something as important as a government election to a popularity contest a la High School ASB elections? I hope not.
There are several problems I’ve noticed with the election process that have contributed to this dilemma, one being inadequate publicity. There are so few students that even know a student government exists, let alone how to get involved with the organization. On top of that, a strict election code limits candidates to distributing no more than 50 fliers on campus and 2 banners and/or posters to help promote their campaign. Until this year, online promotion was not even allowed. This means no Facebook, Myspace, or any other websites that could be used to spread the message of a campaign. I’ve never seen or heard of a scheduled debate between candidates, or a forum where students can ask questions of candidates to better inform themselves before making a decision.
Furthermore, if you have paid any attention to the elections, you may have noticed the limited choice of candidates. How can you really exercise your right to vote, when there is more times than not, only one candidate running for each position? What is the real point in elections when the majority of nominees will win by default in the end?
In order to make elections something of substance, and something that students do want to involve themselves with, we have to put a stronger message out that this is important. Students need to understand who they vote for is who will be representing them at a regional, state, and national level. A sense of pertinence and professionalism within the Associated Student Government has yet to be instilled in the minds of College of the Canyons students whether in office or not, and unless the way elections are run is changed this perception will be perpetuated.
So how will you win my vote, candidates? Prove to me that you will make your organization relevant and admired as a real political organization next year, so there may be a bona fide election in the future. Because, as it stands, this my friends is purely a popularity contest for the students voting, and an easy way to add another gold star on a transfer application for the students running.