Vote or suffer the consequences

Cheryl Gamachi

Students should care about who is calling the shots at the UA, and that means paying attention to the students who will represent them. The Associated Students of the University of Arizona held its primary election for senators this week. ASUA Senate general elections begin next week, which means students should be looking into which candidate best represents them and going online to vote.

Some people are joining Facebook events, seeing the candidates’ faces on every bulletin board around campus and some in person as they take the time to visit classes, clubs and other organizations to introduce themselves and get the word out. ASUA elections are just like any other election: the people that don’t vote don’t get a voice. But that shouldn’t be the case at the UA, because voting is simple and online.

People might think they have better things to do than vote on student government, but the winning candidates are the people who will represent all undergraduates when it comes to tuition, fees and campus problems. Every student’s vote affects what happens at the university. Every student has a busy schedule, but it only takes two minutes to visit the elections site and click “submit.” Your face is already glued to your iPhone or BlackBerry so use your dexterous digits to have a say in your representation.

Only around 10 percent of undergraduates actually vote, and it’s a dirty little secret that the majority of those voting are in Greek Life. So if you’re like the majority of students — not in a social fraternity or sorority — and you choose not to vote, don’t complain when you see who wins.

Candidates go around to each sorority and fraternity during chapter meetings and announce they’re running for an ASUA position. Or better yet, the candidate is in Greek Life. For example, when ASUA President James Allen was declared the winner, all he had to do to celebrate with his fraternity was turn around since they were there to support him. This is not fair to the majority of students, because more than 36,000 undergraduates will be represented by candidates who pander to a single community.

The only way to change this seemingly never-ending cycle of misrepresentation and pandering is to be an active participant in the process. Students should choose their leaders by attending the candidates’ debates or reading their platforms. Most importantly they have to follow through and vote.

ASUA has millions of dollars to spend as it sees fit. Voting, and voting for the right candidate, could be the difference between more scholarships for students or wasting more than $1 million on a concert no one attends. It could be the difference between lowering textbooks costs by making contracts with teachers or wasting money on concerts on the UA Mall.

Just because ASUA is seen as stupid or pointless doesn’t mean they are. These student leaders are supposed to represent you in meetings with the Arizona Board of Regents and UA administration.

If students don’t like the way the university is being run, then this is their chance to stand up and actually do something about it.

General elections are on March 6 and March 7, and by simply Googling “ASUA elections,” clicking and voting, undergraduates can take an active role in the UA and its future.

— Cheryl Gamachi is a pre-journalism freshman. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .