I will be the first to admit that I am not overly educated regarding politics here on campus. It is easy to become wrapped up in your own life at the College of William and Mary — classes, activities, social life and everything else can really distract students from what is going on with the Student Assembly. That being said, I made sure to vote in the recent elections. After all, I have always held to the opinion that you cannot complain about what decisions are made if you didn’t partake in the voting process. Although I participated in all sections of the voting, to me the most important aspect were the referendums on the ballot this year.
I liked that I had the chance to directly vote on referendums concerning STI testing and gender-neutral housing, because I often feel that students become distanced from decisions made due to the lack of direct voting. Obviously, it would be impossible for all students to directly vote on all issues, but I appreciated the chance to influence the outcome of the two referendum votes. It was also reassuring to see the results of the vote, with both referendums receiving above 80 percent of the votes. This signifies to me that students have similar views on these issues, and it’s nice to know that our campus supports both STI testing and the option for gender-neutral housing. I congratulate the student body for passing these two referendums.
What was most frustrating for me, however, was the lack of candidates — specifically for my class, 2013. I was disappointed to see that several offices had only one person running. I am sure these candidates are qualified and will do a great job, but a lack of choice always concerns me, especially in an election. Without competition, I believe the candidates have less incentive to determine the student body wants and needs and to fulfill those through their decisions. I realize write-in votes were an option, but realistically it would be very hard for a write-in candidate to compete with someone officially on the ballot. In the future, I hope to see more students breaking into politics on campus and taking a chance by running for office. Increased diversity in ideas and opinions and more competition for offices will only make our elected bodies more helpful to students.
As I mentioned, I was not very aware of the candidates’ campaigns at all going into this year’s elections. Therefore, I was relying primarily on the short statements included on the ballot for each candidate. I admit it is up to voters to be educated and informed about all candidates in order to make a truly informed decision. However, I think it would be helpful to include more than simply the short paragraphs. While these perhaps were meant to give insight into the overall personality and views of the candidate, not all of them actually outlined the positions of the candidate. This made voting more confusing because it was harder to compare between candidates. Realistically, many students have not paid close attention to the campaigns leading up to elections, so I think it would benefit all candidates and the election as a whole to include more pertinent information about each student running. This could still be set up as a separate link, so that it would not burden the ballot with extra information that some students wouldn’t want to see. I have to say that although I voted, I was not overly confident in my vote in several cases simply because I could not glean much real information from the short blurbs included on the ballot.
There is no excuse as to why all students on campus should not have cast votes and involve themselves in the political process on campus, which I think is very important. The more people that get involved, the better our SA will be able to align its goals with students and understand what the campus really needs and wants.