Why Would Students Give Up Voting?
My name is Cody Brown and I hail from New York University. I was a student in the class you mentioned [‘Why Students Choose Tuition Over Voting,’ Nov. 19] and the one who initially proposed the survey about whether you would trade your vote for tuition money.
I thought your editorial was wonderful and that you guys really illuminated the core of the survey. The Washington Times and so many other mainstream media sources got the angle wrong. I just thought I would say you did a great job. Hats off.
Cody Brown, NYU Student
In a recent editorial about student voting, you wrote, ‘The sad truth is that any individual’s vote is not going to affect the outcome of the next election, nor what the winner will do once in office.’ Although this statement is true in itself, as most rational people would consider in a nation of over 300 million, the mass effect of such a mentality is disastrous. If all 20 million college students (and yes, there are about that many of us according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau) thought that way, as our political stereotype suggests (and that stereotype is based off our actions), then it should be obvious why presidential candidates have no ‘substantive platform on those issues most important to us.’ If we’re not going to vote for them, why should they address the issues we care about?
It is this mentality that feeds the idea that ‘college students are apathetic and lack the maturity to understand the duty of participating in a democracy through voting.’ Not voting because one vote will not change the ballot is in itself an immature idea. I’m willing to wager my next year’s tuition that most voters know this. However, empowered with the knowledge that there are like-minded individuals out there who share our view and (we hope) will also vote for the reasons that we do, we do indeed have a civic duty to vote and thus share in the idea that we can accomplish things collectively.
Students are distressed that tuition costs are rising, and they are thus working longer hours and having less time for school and other activities. According to the survey of New York University students, the majority of students would give up their right to vote in one election for one year of college tuition. I ask that you take that into perspective. A presidential term is four years, as is the length of a four-year degree. If (and I know this is a very big if) we could get one president who was sympathetic to our tuition problem, we could lower the cost for all four years. If we don’t, we will see tuition continue to rise. Even if we trade in our voting rights and get one year off, we will get snowballed for the other three and be forced to work longer hours.
Now, I know I threw in a very big if, but I want you to realize how little it actually is. At the very least, if we got the notion that our votes do matter and began to vote, letting it be known that we are indeed responsible voters, then political figures would be more willing to listen to what we want. It would be our votes that would help put them there. Even with special interest groups (and we do have some of our own