People’s apathy toward campus politics is getting worse and worse with each year. Last year, the presidential election received 2,643 votes out of a campus of more than 40,000 students. In the 2014-15 school year, 5,461 students voted in the elections, and the 2013-14 elections, 6,952 students voted.
So what is going wrong? Has the UW student population been evaporating over time? Or have the ASUW administrators and elections been failing to ignite people’s interest? I think most of us know the answer to this question.
Student politicians are short on funds for formal campaign advertising, so in this digital age, candidates shift to social media platforms such as Facebook. The number of likes exceeds 5,000 in total for all five tickets’s pages running this year. Among my visits to these Facebook pages on the second voting day, only the Husky Progress page clearly showed their ideas and goals in just a few clicks. The majority of posts are photos of the candidates and related campaign images.
Getting to know people is all well and good, but simply seeing faces is not enough to make an informed decision. What if I am a student who cannot attend any forums? If popular campaign advertising cannot provide more information than the 2016 ASUW Voter’s Guide, such advertising seems more like branding than running politics.
In addition to questionable advertising strategies, there seems to always be a candidate or a ticket running to make waves. Either due to a lack of knowledge of real-world politics, or being desperate to make reforms, there is often a radical candidate or ticket. This year, this kind of revolutionary political ideas are featured by the Dawgs Bite Back ticket: “No Member of the Faculty or Staff be Paid More Than $300,000; More Space in Competitive Majors; A 15% Reduction of the Administrative Staff at UW; Move UW to a Semester System.”
How many of the above ideas do campus politicians truly believe in? The ASUW is a powerful entity, but the UW board of regents is the executive body. Within the current framework and system, none of these measures are practical, although they might sound appealing. Such uninformed and intentionally subversive campaign measures are pushing our campus politics to a perilous state.
I have received a few notifications on Facebook from the international students’ group urging us to vote for Dawgs Bite Back. But my justification and maturity tempt me to call the goals of this ticket deception in order to gain votes.
Given that each member of the UW community is eligible to vote, large student entities have more weight in endorsing ASUW candidates. If only a small portion of the student population is actually voting, student entities such as the Greek community and various student groups will continue to have a substantial impact on election results. Additionally, if voter turnout keeps dropping as it has over the past few years, the ASUW elections will eventually fall into a show of the majority.
Nevertheless, the ASUW 2016-17 elections have been the most exciting since I started at the UW. There are five tickets, and I wish them all good luck. I am fortunate enough to have attended most of the forums in which the ASUW candidates spoke about their political goals for the next year. For each candidate I painstakingly read through their goals, promises, and profiles. Then I voted for the ones who seem to remain consistent with their actual performance and listed experiences and I encourage you to do the same.
Reach writer Zezhou Jing at email@example.com. Twitter: @Zz_Jing