Let’s make it count

  We will elect a new SGA president and vice president next week — well, some of us will. Last year, only 1,400 students voted in the SGA presidential election — a paltry 15 percent of the undergraduate student body. The grim turnout may result from the few resources available to evaluate candidates. Right now the election seems to be based on location, location, location. The 20 posters of one candidate staring down at you in Harris Millis are only competing with 15 of another in Votey. Face and name recognition is the entirety of the election process, and whose face you see depends on where you are at any given time. Ten-word slogans can’t encompass the issues at stake and the way the student body will be governed for a full academic year. While it is important for students to investigate the candidates on their own, with only a 15 percent turnout in a highly controversial election, it is obvious that more needs to be done. The Cynic is committed to providing as much information as we can, and intends to interview all candidates regarding their platforms, aspirations and prior SGA service. However some of the responsibility must fall on the SGA, and the individual candidates.  With only one debate, and posters that merely contain headshots and slogans, how are students expected to be engaged?  If students felt that elections had more at stake than deciding whose name was more recognizable, the turnout would probably reflect it. Maybe the disinterest is contagious, and if cured, would result in more than two candidates for President.  If the public cared, maybe Senator Mike White would not have dropped out of the race to be “a man with a purpose [rather] than a man with a title,” as he stated in a Cynic article this week.  He could have been a “man with a purpose” if he felt the support of his community. The SGA, in theory, is a body that should represent the voice of students and be a force for change at UVM. Many people say they feel the SGA doesn’t fulfill those expectations, but maybe that perception is not entirely the SGA’s fault. They aren’t going to go out on a limb for us if we aren’t willing to go out there with them. We need to select our leadership carefully and enthusiastically, not in the passive, eeny-meeny-miny-moe fashion we have in the past. That will show we stand behind them and trust them to make that provocative decision, and be that force for change we need them to be.