Voting is an odd phenomenon. In the 2012 presidential elections an estimated $8 billion was spent on campaigning, yet some 93 million eligible U.S. citizens didn’t vote. Similarly, voter turnout has been lackluster in past Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) elections as well, but what isn’t clear is why.
In presidential elections as well as local and state elections, the people eventually selected to take office are capable of making dramatic changes—and the same is true for the students elected to hold position in ASBSU.
ASBSU is entirely student run and is meant to serve two main purposes; the first, to act as a liaison between the student body and administration and the second, the students elected are meant to advocate on our behalf.
Many students suffering from voter apathy don’t seem to realize their attitude only serves to hurt them in the long run.
How does ignorance not equate to bliss in this simplistic and hypothetical equation? It’s simple.
ASBSU is funded with money from a student fee each semester—your tuition money and a portion of that goes directly to ASBSU. Studens who don’t vote or get involved are essentially saying, “take my money and spend it however you want. I don’t care.” and ASBSU this year alone has the capability to distribute $265,000 to students, student events and initiatives.
“Each club or organizations is eligible for $3,500 in grants from ASBSU,” said vice presidential candidate Jamie Lundergreen. “I was able to put on a welcome BBQ for my student organization with the help of ASBSU funding.”
This year’s leaders have allocated time, money and resources to a number of projects. A few you may remember the homecoming student giveaways—white bronco sunglasses anyone?—funding for finals cram snacks, reinstating the individual grant and the equitable funding campaign, perhaps better known as Broncos Deserve.
These aren’t the only ways the money could have been spent, it’s just one way and students are the ultimate decision makers. By casting a vote students are also showing their priorities.
“ASBSU serves as the student voice,” said Lundergreen. “For instance, ASBSU opened up the assembly meeting to get student feedback about the recent issues surrounding the intramural field, so students were able to express their opinions.”
Lundergreen also makes the distinction that elected students represent the rest of Boise State beyond the borders of campus.
“Outside of the campus, ASBSU also serves as the Boise State student voice in all of Idaho,” Lundergreen said.
On Wednesday, March 13 a candidate forum was held in the Farnsworth Ballroom in the SUB so candidates could talk about their campaign, experience and goals. The forum was a great idea. The turnout was just shy of dismal.
Secretary of Student Organization Affairs candidate Megan Buxton talked about her goals of more transparency in the funding priorities of ASBSU and providing clubs and organizations with a clear structure for securing funds from student government, but hardly anyone was there to hear her.
Chris Bower, Secretary of Academic Affairs candidate talked about his background in academics and involvement in the honors college which feeds his passion for academics, but only a handful of students heard.
Presidential candidate Dominic Gelsomino highlighted at the debate a few problems he sees.
“A lot of students do not know about ASBSU,” Gelsomino said. “Only six percent of students vote in elections.”
Six percent of 22,678 students is only 1,360 students. Should the remaining 21,318 just be written off as America’s disaffected youth or is this indicative of a greater nationwide problem, voter apathy?
“By not voting, students demonstrate indifference in their education and in their voice,” Lundergreen said. “Needs can only be met when students make the effort to vote for who they think will do the best job.”
Students who don’t vote still have a voice, but it will be the voice of the elected student representatives, and if that voice doesn’t coincide with individual priorities students only have themselves to blame.