Our campus looks like it’s the victim of a goddamn Apple store explosion. And for once, it’s not the armies of iPod-listening, head-bobbing, not-paying-attention-on-the-bike-path drones that have me annoyed. It’s election campaign time, and it has me wishing I could hit the skip button on this never-ending playlist titled Associated Students. But the hits just keep on comin’.
For the last three years, I have ridden my bike onto campus and witnessed the barrage of neon election campaign signs that litter every inch of available grass. And for a moment, each year, I expect to read something that will make me think. Isn’t that what an election should do? Make me debate the issues, decide where I stand, choose the side that best represents my wishes? Every year I find myself sorely disappointed.
But if the present campus signage says anything about this year’s elections, it’s this: A.S. has, undoubtedly, perfected its attempts at vying for students’ attention through cheap, superficial and meaningless ploys at pop culture references.
Do I want to just listen to my iPod or do I want to be the one holding the microphone? Am I down with OPP (the Open People’s Party) – how long did that one take to piece together – or the Students’ Party? Is my favorite sign color blue or green? Behold, the sad nature of our campus elections.
I find myself torn, largely because neither party name says anything in particular about their “politics;” because neither the Students’ Party nor the newly formed OPP has successfully conveyed what their platforms are, or how they are different from the other guy. Our campus’s electoral process, instead, is watered down to a contest between whose signs are the brightest, the catchiest and the more prominently placed along the bike path.
Perhaps the bigger problem is that the vapidity in the A.S. electoral debate isn’t new to this year, and it certainly isn’t just the signs that say nothing. I’m tired of the OPPs and the Students’ Parties, the Students’ Parties and the SACs (Student Action Coalition), the SACs and the SUNs (Student Unity Now) occupying our time and our lawns with ceaseless debates in which they all agree that fees are too high, students need better representation and campus government needs to be more accountable, more transparent.
A.S.-sponsored debates are no better and are usually poorly attended by the student body – save those members of whatever arbitrary political parties may be running that particular year. It’s not apathy that keeps voter turnout low; it’s the lack of interesting, meaningful and articulate platforms.
It all boils down to never-ending rhetoric – packaged in neon paints, staked into the grass along the bike path. And look where it gets us.
For all the promises of reform and heightened efficacy, our student population is still represented by a governing body that gets bogged down in petty, factional infighting and, as of late, is slowly dissolving the system of checks and balances that kept it somewhat accountable to its constituency.
So, this year, I want an A.S. election where candidates do more than make idealistic “Pepsi in the drinking fountains” promises to their constituents. Please, don’t dazzle me with illusions of a two party system if you can’t back it up. Don’t tell me you’ll make I.V. a better place with lower rent. Don’t vow that you’re more committed to student lobbying than the other guy. Give me concrete issues, backed by strategies for achieving what you promise. Show me that transparency and accountability are more than cheap catch phrases you use to woo us into voting for you.
I know it’s a long shot, but pull it off and maybe this year’s Associated Students elections will be something worth listening to instead of the same old flop, stuck on repeat.
Kristen Richer is the Managing Editor for the Daily Nexus.