AS elections: just the same old song and dance
One topic comes to mind when recalling a meeting of the Santa Monica College Associated Students last semester: microphones. Rather than discussing issues that affect the student body, the AS directors spent nearly an hour debating on how much money to spend on new microphones for their own meetings. Now, I'm sure there have been bigger wastes of time in the lives of the students who sat through that particular meeting, but this one definitely ranks high on my list.
The only other remotely relevant topic for students from that meeting was the Civic Engagement Program, a volunteer program meant to assist SMC students with finding local volunteer opportunities which, just like its former leader, Alex Vandertol, ended its reign just as fast as it began.
My disinterest with the AS, however, doesn't solely stem from these experiences. This spring semester's AS elections have shed a much brighter light on student's interest in the AS as well as interest in joining the board of directors.
After a debate between presidential candidates as well as candidates running for directors positions on the quad Tuesday during the student activity hour, several students were asked what they thought about the debate, only to respond with the same general responses of non-interest.
"I actually just caught the last five minutes," said SMC student Alexander Nickerson. "I didn't even know what they were running for."
Some students skipped it all together while some who actually stuck around felt it could've been a little bit more compelling. "I thought it was good. They could've asked some harder questions, I liked it though," said SMC student Andy Martin.
Most of the questions, which were centered around SMC's dismal parking situation and student I.D. fees, garnered the same overused responses about "doing what's best for the students" that students have become accustomed to year after year.
A much more glaring factor with this year's elections is the lack of important positions being contested. As it stands now, the positions of Vice President, Student Trustee, AS Secretary, Director of Budget Management, Director of Academic Support & Shared Governance, and Director of Sustainability have candidates running unopposed.
These are six positions important to the success of the AS. How can they expect students to show interest in their operations when the AS can't even show interest in it themselves?
Political gate keepers will always say that people have no right to complain about politics when they take no action themselves. However, in this case, the AS does not have the leverage to ask students to become interested in them when they can't even generate proper interest within their own ranks.
This in mind, it is interesting to have been able to hear the AS's take on just how they plan to peak the interest of their constituents. During the debate, candidates addressed the issue by saying that students will know to join the AS the next time they are not allowed to print from a computer in the Cayton Center because they are not an AS member.
While the AS may think that manipulating students into choosing between becoming a member or having no student rights is a rational move, this can only further push away students as it is telling them that they will be taken care of unless they're not AS members, then they're on their own.
Instead of "doing what's best for students," the AS seems more interested in "doing what's best for AS members."
These elections will serve a purpose for better or worse. Whether this will be the year that a truly significant promise is fulfilled, or just another year of the same old speeches, the elections will come to an end and students will have their new government.
Will they care? One can never really tell. But with a little bit more arm twisting, maybe the AS can gain what they so dearly crave: interest.