Annual Political Apathy Critique
It’s that time of year again, where Ring Road is flocked with different platforms vying for your vote in the election during week 3. Candidates write their names on flyers and hand them out to students on Ring Road who try their best to avoid eye contact. While we can complain about student apathy on campus, there are multiple aspects to this problem, some of which our campus has yet to acknowledge or strive toward working on. As an Editorial Board, we have compiled what we think to be the problems with the political climate at UC Irvine.
Student Apathy: Student involvement is one of the big issues that we hear about time and time again. But at the end of the day, if students are not concerned about what ASUCI candidates are going to do for them then ASUCI candidates have no reason to run a platform catered to the needs of the students who will not give them the time of day. As students of this university, we should have executive leaders who best represent our voices and opinions. They are our liaisons, and if we want to complain about how they aren’t doing their jobs we have to be actively involved in the process.
Candidate Apathy: Not all of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of students, though. As candidates for our study body leadership, they have a responsibility to lay out a clear, detailed platform for why students should vote for them, as opposed to just telling students to “Vote (insert platform name here)!” If candidates truly care about their positions as liaisons between students and administration, they should be actively trying to persuade students to vote for them on issues that matter. Knowing a platform name and who to mark on a ballot should not be the end goal. The end goal should be convincing the student population that their platform will be the strongest executive leadership and represent the students in the best way possible.
Candidates should be holding debates and open forums — it doesn’t matter if no one attends (although that’s a problem for your PR) or if only your detractors attend; as a candidate, it’s your responsibility to discuss the issues.
General Ignorance: What does ASUCI President do? What should the ASUCI President do? These are all questions that us as a UCI student body, aren’t quite clear on. Of course, official job descriptions can be found on ASUCI’s website, but those are the basics of what ASUCI executive office leaders do. We need to be informed on what these positions entail, so that we are able to tell the students running for these positions what we want them, in their power, to accomplish.
Check out our UCInquiry in Features — do these people have any idea what ASUCI even does? Do you?
Accessibility of Information: All candidates can upload their campaign on www.asuci.edu/elections. Just by a quick glance at the information provided by the candidates, many descriptions are vague, if they even provide a description. Candidates should be providing thorough descriptions of their visions so that students have access to resources to make the best decision possible. Whether students do that or not is part of the student’s end of the bargain, but the information has to be there for them to utilize.
Accountability: Accountability goes hand-in-hand with general ignorance, if we don’t know what our executives are supposed to be doing for us, how are we supposed to hold them accountable? Legislative Council holds meetings every Tuesday and Thursday with minimal student attendance. If students aren’t present at these meetings and ASUCI starts making decisions we as students do not agree with, we have no grounds to complain. Until students start holding ASUCI executives accountable, no change should be expected.
It’s interesting that we have a number of special interest groups on campus — MSU, Hillel, the Cross Cultural Center etc – but none of them publically endorse or denounce candidates. The federal model of lobbying can be distressing to the American public, but at least it provides a gauge for the issues; where our campus is concerned, it’s the groups that campaign for social change, hold the protests and the sit-ins and the rallies, that have the best chance of inciting student involvement. ASUCI elections should be their Primetime, their Superbowl… so where are they?
Our campus, it seems, isn’t a political one — oh sure, the Wall goes up every year, and there’s always a protest or two and the Greeks and the Cross will always be at each other’s’ throats, but when it comes down to it, the problem runs deep, and it will take something genuine (who knows what) to show some genuine political activism. Just look at the numbers — who wants to bet that we won’t even make quorum this year?
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