Letter to the editor
This letter is written in reference to an article published titled “Students to pay higher mandatory student activity fee,” which ran Sept. 29. In an election open to the entire student body, only about 5 percent showed up to the polls. The majority of those voters favored a $10 increase to a mandatory student activity fee, bringing it to $104.74 each semester. The vote also included whether students wanted to keep the fee at all.
A 5 percent turnout? You know there are laws demanding new elections and scrapping the old if the turnout is that low in many countries. That percentage is statistically able to represent the entire population, sure, but without any demographic data from the vote to be confident in this, I don't think that this 5 percent was.
I think the 5 percent was made up mostly of people already in clubs, because they have the most at stake with the mandatory student fee, and the structure to educate their members about the vote. Raising that fee is like voting to raise the budget to the clubs they're in – why wouldn't they?
This logic is heavily biased by the fact that I had no idea the elections were going on, and I missed them. I had no idea what the issues were, who was running, where the polls were. I admit that. I also admit that as a "citizen" of the university, I should've looked that information up as soon as I got here.
Forgive me, I still haven't taken civics. However, with a 5 percent turnout, and with the reasonable guess that those who voted would have a much higher chance of being in a club or association, it looks from out here much like a small fragment of the population using our ignorance (directly by not putting an effort into voter education and knowing they should, or indirectly by not worrying about it) to achieve their own ends.
I don't like the idea, but it is a really simple answer to the questions I've had since reading the article. Occam's razor is fun like that. Simpler answers include: No one cares, or we were busy, right?
If no one cared about the $10.00 increase to their mandatory fee, and if they aren't in a club or association and aren't utilizing any of that fee for themselves, and since this is a public school with presumably lower tuition rates so a higher percentage of people going that care about their budgets ... I'd guess more than 5 percent would turn up, especially if they could do away with the $100.00 fee forever.
If we were busy, then wouldn't the existence of only one polling day disproportionally affect those who have busier schedules? I haven't joined a club yet because I haven't had time to, and I'm sure many people in my degree program feel the same. Just because we've been too busy to vote, doesn't mean we wouldn't if we had a free second. Early voting exists in many states of the United States for reasons like these, right? Why not here? Because the costs would be too high? How, in administrative costs of the extra days of polling, or because you're afraid the busy budget minded folks would say no? I, of course, would've voted yes – I want to join a club one day.
But I cannot let my agreement with the decision allow me to sit idly by when it doesn't look like a legitimate poll. I will not condemn the Student Association entirely yet, but I'd like these concerns of mine answered, if you please.
Student (sophomore transfer)