I have long been amazed and infatuated with the school spirit at UCSB. Not the fanatical, body-painted sport culture characteristic of ASU or USC, but rather the subliminal, relaxed — but intense — passion for our campus and community.

That being said, I am continually shocked by our apathy when it comes to school matters that actually define UCSB. There is no lack of committed, creative and driven individuals at this university. I know this because I am lucky enough to have known and been inspired by many of them myself. With no effort at all, I can think of friends and peers of mine who passionately create films, run political clubs on campus and generously commit themselves to philanthropic organizations and athletic teams. However, these passions remain compartmentalized, and students choose to ignore the connectivity among student organizations. Most people act as if the Associated Student elections are entirely irrelevant to them. Not only does this mentality paralyze the student body’s ability to create a fully represented and well-balanced community, but it’s completely off-base.

The Associated Students has more power than the average student realizes. They’re more than just the voice of the student body. They’re also the pocketbook: To the filmmaker, A.S. has the ability to allocate thousands of dollars for events like Reel Loud; I personally know a group of exchange students who decided to organize a fundraiser in the wake of the Earthquake in Haiti last year — A.S. agreed to match it up to $3,554.21; generous funds can be allotted to the passionate members of the Greek system over the course of the year.

I am by no means condemning those who are not well-versed in the dynamics of student government, nor am I encouraging all UCSB students to sit through the painfully long A.S. Legislative Council meetings and scrutinize over the minutes — we at the Nexus do that for you. What I am imploring you to do is flex your power as a student and an important member of this academic institution. Realize that the students elected to A.S. do have power over your money, do represent your voice and will affect your experience at UCSB.

If nothing else, realize that your right to complain about almost all campus hiccups and inconveniences is a privilege contingent upon the assumption that you voted. If you would like to complain about the lack of pressure on the local government to find a compromise for Floatopia this time next year, then familiarize yourself with the candidates and campaign issues now. After you have logged onto GOLD on April 18 and cast your vote, then you have earned your right — complain away.

I love UCSB and Isla Vista as much as the tank-clad bro, and almost as much as the kid in your class who chooses to never wear shoes. I.V.’s unique mélange of students is integral to the atmosphere we all have grown to love. However, there’s a reason we’re all here. Before each of us chose our major, joined our campus clubs and carved our path at UCSB, we made education a priority — it’s the common thread among all of us. Our participation at this institution is not a chore but a privilege. It’s time for a shift in mentality. Jenna Ryan is the Opinion Editor at the Daily Nexus.