EDITORIAL: Make informed decisions in Student Union elections
In light of Student Union winter elections on Thursday, this board encourages Brandeis students to participate actively and vote for figures who will represent us well in a government of our peers.
Democracies of every size are cyclical in nature. Apathy breeds apathy: When constituencies do not pay attention, those in power are not forced to alter their platforms, adjust their messages or even follow through with their promises. The same applies to our campus during Student Union elections. If the student body does not actively participate, the Student Union risks stagnating, and little progress is guaranteed year to year. Holding the Student Union accountable through active participation helps ensure that it is effective.
830 students voted in the winter 2016 election, while 993 students voted in the fall 2016 election. Total undergraduate enrollment is 3,610, according to the Brandeis website, meaning that less than 28 percent of the undergraduate population voted in our most recent election. While this is indicative of a larger trend toward greater student involvement, it is still a low level of involvement on such a small campus, where everyone’s voice has the potential to make a large difference.
In last year’s Student Union presidential election, 1,053 votes were cast; the election was decided by two votes. This proves that active participation can make a huge difference.
This board recommends that the Student Union consider initiating a new system in which students are encouraged to consider candidates’ platforms and experience, rather than just their names. Instead of only listing names, ballots should also list short summaries of candidates’ goals and qualifications.
This board recognizes that each student’s level of preparation prior to an election varies and that some individuals may be more informed than others. This board’s proposed change would provide all students with easily accessible baseline information on each candidate and therefore hopefully increase informed voting and decrease the number of abstentions. Further, this would help make sure that people are voting not based solely on name recognition or popularity but rather for the person whose values and initiatives are most in line with their own.
Additionally, this board would like to reaffirm that, as a student newspaper, our first responsibility is to you, our readers, and that it is our job to act as a check to those in power here, including student leaders. Going forward, we plan to cover elections more closely and to ensure that the promises made by those running for student government in the future are adhered to.