You remember back in middle school and high school when the student government elections were popularity contests? Consider the ASUCI elections a glorified popularity contest. Except while in middle school and high school the student governments dealt mostly with dances and charity events, the ASUCI elections actually affect our environment on campus, our student life and even tuition.
Since the ramifications are meaningful and important, our elections should be conducted in a similar manner. We see candidates spending left and right on fliers, Web sites, T-shirts and flashy posters. What we don’t see clearly are the issues they wish to tackle and resolve.
While we saw a very high turnout in last year’s election (25 percent of the student body), those who vote are generally those who directly know someone who is running, or who know someone who knows someone who is running. I hope you follow. It is basically a popularity contest. People vote by association. I am not going to lie — my reasoning for voting for Megan Braun was pretty dumb last year. She got my vote because she shared the same last name as my favorite baseball player. However, I am extremely glad I made that dumb decision. During my first two years at UC Irvine, I was under the impression that the Greeks have a lock on the ASUCI elections. Rumors of spending the budget on parties in Las Vegas turned me off from ASUCI as a whole. Braun was the first candidate who actually came in and made ASUCI stand out to me. She said she would bring the school together, and she did. Shocktoberfest and Midnight Magic were huge successes and her ties with the athletic department brought out the most school spirit this university has seen in years, with special events like basketball and volleyball. I have heard she is always in ASUCI president mode from all my friends in UCI, and that is the kind of dedication you expect from a leader.
I am not bringing up the achievements of Megan Braun to endorse; I am doing it more so to encourage every student to look into every candidate and see what they have to offer. Who knows — maybe Mark Crawford or Harish Venkitaramann might be even better than Braun?
As I look through the statements many of the candidates have made online and the language they use, I don’t feel any of them are taking the position they are running for seriously (I even sometimes question their intelligence, which is scary). There are two reasons why I think this. For one, what do some of these positions even mean? What does an “At-large” representative do? Or a Humanities representative? We never hear from any of the students currently in those positions except when they are elected. We don’t know if they actually made any difference. They all say they are going to do the same things in their campaigns, which makes them all seem the same. The ones who you know or whose posters stated one thing that caught your eye get the vote. Another year passes, things go unchanged, we don’t care because we don’t get informed, and the process repeats.
These faults are double-headed. The candidates and the officials don’t do their job properly engaging the student body, and the student body becomes disinterested in the election. The only reason I care about this election more than any other ASUCI election in the past is because I actually witnessed change from this administration. Electing the right people can actually make our student experiences here better, a perception that wasn’t present in the past.
Last year’s 25-percent turnout was sadly one of the best. Half of that 25 percent must have been the Greek community. They typically have the best support on campus in these elections because they have bonds within their fraternities and sororities that give them an advantage with campaigning and support. Thus, the ASUCI elections get knocked as a Greek-dominated event. They are a Greek-dominated event because they are the most united and organized minority on campus. The rest of us get blinded by their enthusiasm and are turned to carelessness. If everyone gets involved and participates, the majority of campus will get what’s best for them, whether those candidates are Greek or not.
Here is my message for the candidates: The cool stickers, booths and T-shirts are all fun and dandy, but we don’t care because we don’t know how you are going to make things better for us. Show us and prove it. For those who are running for the lower echelon positions, come up with ways to update us on what you are doing and the positive changes you have made. Your accomplishments that affect us are your tickets to rising in the ranks, nothing else.