Student Governance Council elections have seen an alarming drop in student participation from 2015 to 2018.
In 2015, 18.9 percent of the student body voted in SGC executive board elections. In the most recent election, held last spring, only 1.1 percent of the student body voted. Coming into this fall semester, the SGC board currently has 20 senate vacancies — which is an unusually high number.
To see such a small portion of the student body actively participating in student government is worrying. The SGC is supposed to be an organization that accurately represents and advocates for the desires of the student body, led by people who are elected by students. By not participating in SGC, the student body runs the risk of not being accurately represented in the decisions the SGC makes or the issues it tries to address in the future.
While the SGC may appear as a inconsequential medium to make change on campus, it is one of the few outlets in which students can affect the college’s inner workings. In the past, SGC has demonstrated its capability to incite change by passing a Carbon Monoxide Bill, the sanctuary bill to protect undocumented students and the vote of no confidence, which contributed to former President Tom Rochon resigning in 2015. It is important that students on campus continue to support the SGC, so that they can continue to make consequential change.
Additionally, the lack of participation in smaller, school-based politics does not bode well for students’ participation in national and local politics in the future. By not getting invested in the student government candidates or the campus issues that impact them directly, students are not gaining the crucial experience they need in analyzing political candidates and issues on a larger scale for the future. Given the age of political turmoil we currently exist in, in which buzzwords and fearful rhetoric are often used in favor of genuine political debate, developing politically conscious, proactive voters is more important than ever.
That being said, the SGC could also be more proactive in its efforts to get students involved with the organization. In an age where everyone’s social media feeds are cluttered with thousands of notifications each day, often social media promotion is not enough to get people involved. When questioned about SGC, some students voiced that they were not aware of the impact the organization actually has on campus or did not see the point in voting due to unopposed candidates.
Ultimately, the relationship SGC has with students on campus needs heavy reworking. By re-emphasizing itself as an organization created to serve students and their interests on campus, SGC could put itself back on the radar of its most important constituents: students.