In its campaign propaganda, Associated Students urged voters to “make an informed decision.” However, bombarding students with “Vote Yes” fliers, signs and advertisements made obtaining actual information impossible for the electorate.
Since a lack of organized opposition afforded A.S. the luxury of campaigning without actually defending its need for a 100 percent increase in quarterly funding, this was A.S.’s election to lose. And lose it they did by making bullying an uninformed student body their primary get-out-the-vote tactic.
The advertisements that A.S. groups like Program Board and the Legal Resource Center bought in the Daily Nexus as well as the fliers that A.S. members handed out to students deceptively stated that students would get to control where their money went, grossly oversimplifying the budget process and the roundabout way students could actually benefit from the initiative’s passage. Such advertising also inaccurately depicted the Daily Nexus — an independent entity that receives a constitutionally guaranteed and un-recharged lock-in fee of 85 cents per student per quarter — as a group under the umbrella of the Associated Students. A.S. has zero control over Daily Nexus content or its finances.
Even the online ballot was loaded with bias, alerting voters to all the neat and wonderful things A.S. could continue accomplishing with more money. Clicking “no” came with an added screen of pro-initiative verbiage — as if to ask, “Are you really sure?” — before one had to click again to actually submit the vote.
In addition, by holding the election during Fall Quarter and spending significant effort targeting residence halls, A.S. tried to capitalize on the ignorance of freshmen who have not attended UCSB long enough to understand A.S. or its financial processes.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the election was the dismal voter turnout. A.S. could not convince enough students — barely the 20 percent quota needed for a valid election — that any of the hubbub even mattered. This student apathy suggests the vast majority of UCSB’s 18,000 undergraduates just do not identify with many of the goals and accomplishments of their student government.
And were any of the pricey campaign extras necessary? Would a few more organic, sweatshop-free “Yes on A.S.I.” T-shirts really have pushed the vote tally over the edge? No organization should need such a well-funded campaign to prove that it’s broke.
In the recent history of A.S. attempts to raise its base fee, the people who ran this campaign will be remembered for the arrogant ways they tried to shake us down for over half a million dollars.