ASUP Elections are coming up soon, so it’s time to gather up all your information, sit in on a few speeches, critically analyze each candidate’s running position and compare your options in order to cast a very educated, informed vote. We all do this right? RIGHT?
Okay, so maybe ASUP elections are not this way for everyone. How we actually choose who we vote for probably depends on a number of factors, but let’s face it, we don’t always do the research.
Junior Jake Hanna says he learns about candidates from Facebook or word of mouth. Hanna stated that if he did not know anything about the candidates, he would not vote, however, he admitted that whether things do or don’t change in the end does not really matter to him. Hanna said, “I value anyone who is artistic, involved in humanities, or interested in art. I’d love to see more of that here.”
Sophomore Spencer Price said he probably would not be voting in the upcoming election—possibly in part because I explained to him what ASUP actually is. However, Price boldly admits that he would vote without knowing why the campaigners were running. He said he would base his decision off of the brief descriptions on the election ballots online, and that he would probably base his decision off of whoever seemed “most intellectually driven.”
Here we have two examples of different people voting or not voting for different reasons, but in both cases, they still seem to be unsure or skeptical of why it matters to vote.
Mariah Wildgen, a junior, is running for the position of ASUP President for the 2015-16 school year. Wildgen is currently the Secretary of ASUP. The reason Wildgen chose to run was because her experience on the ASUP Executive Board has taught her what ASUP can do for the students, and how she would like to “advocate for students.” However, Wildgen feels that students are unaware what ASUP can do for them.
Wildgen broke down parts of her campaign, from better funding and resources that will be available at the Student Health Center, to better planning for signing up for field use on campus, more programming against sexual assault through Green Dot, and improvements to the parking situation on campus, especially as renovations on the Pilot House begin to put a strain on traffic on campus.
Despite everyone’s dedication to bettering campus life, Wildgen admits that there are still biases in the election process. It is often compared to a kind of popularity contest, depending on how many people you know on campus or how you present yourself; what you actually care about and campaign for can easily be pushed to the side and forgotten. Wildgen feels that for her personally, campaigning is not her strong suit; instead, she would rather be doing service or working in some other way for the community.
Within the election process, one thing I have always been confused about is whether or not seniors who are not returning to campus are able to vote or not. Wildgen confirmed the fact that they are, and she encourages them to, despite the fact that it may not affect them directly. She said, “[Seniors] typically want the school to be better than when they left it.”
But I wasn’t entirely convinced.
I tracked down Matthew Baer, a senior, and former ASUP Senate member, and three years running ASUP Committee Chair. Baer agrees with Wildgen that the average student, seniors included, do not understand ASUP’s full potential, and therefore many do not worry about their power to vote. According to Baer, students do not vote because they don’t think there is an impact, or they don’t see it. Baer is currently in the process of campaigning to the senior class, so that those who have seen change over the years can help decide with their votes.
Baer recalls that his freshman year on the bluff, when Brock Vasconcellos was ASUP President, that that year the effects of ASUP were really powerful because that whole team, between ASUP and CPB, were the ones that created the idea for River Campus, as well as the fact that they got the University on board with bringing Macklemore to Rock the Bluff, just to name a few great impacts.
To say ASUP has no effect on students, in the present or the future, is a bold face lie.
The problem, as Baer put it, is that “[Students] don’t do the investigative reporting. That’s left up to the Beacon.” Or The Purple Post in this case.
ASUP is not just some glorified popularity contest. These students clearly wouldn’t be running if they didn’t care about their peers and each of our lives here at UP. That is why it is important to vote.
Still not convinced?
Go to Election Speech Night tonight on the quiet side of the Commons at 7:15 p.m. and see what the Presidential/Vice Presidential candidates have to say.
Voting runs between March 24th and 25th.
*Edit: Changed “Board” to “board” in 12th paragraph. Also “the Purple Pilot” changed to “The Purple Post” in 14th paragraph
Categories: Campus Politics