A.S. Elections and Student Apathy

Pitifully few votes were cast during Santa Monica College's election for the Associated Students board of directors on the week of April 5.

Since the election was held the week prior to Spring Break, perhaps many students were too distracted by midterms and vacations to bother executing their civic duty.

But to ask the students themselves, it would seem that the major excuses for not voting were ignorance of the issues, platforms and candidates - in short, everything except the fact that there was an election to be held. Some students didn't even know that.

Could the A.S. do a better job of publicizing the elections in ways that reach student voters?

Did students in civics, government and political science classes fail to be informed by their professors about the opportunity to put theory into practice right here on this campus?

Public notification of the elections is only half the fight. The other part is overcoming student apathy - the excuse that busy community college students have "no time" to vote must be exposed as untrue.

It doesn't take a lot of time to read and cast a ballot.

The voting booths were in the cafeteria, an area frequented by a far greater percentage of students than the percent that voted.

How many students who found the time to eat and chat with their friends, or shove their money into the vending manchines, were willfully oblivious to the candidates and electioneers passing out fliers in a mad rush to inform them?

For some SMC students, the consequences of shirking the democratic process of two weeks ago could be dramatic.

Of the students who voted, 52 percent voted in favor of a smoke-free campus.

Although the question was only a poll, and no law banning smokers has passed, the students who do smoke and didn't vote might find themselves subject to discussion by the new board.

Unfortunately, since voter turnout was so low, a true picture of what SMC feels about smoking can't be drawn from the vote.

But the consequences of the vote affect more than just smokers. We are all affected. We now have a new A.S. board and a new president, Lillian Cavalieri.

They will decide what is to be done with our money; they will decide how to inform us of the issues that affect us; they are our advocates and must speak for us. We put our trust in them.