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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Voting: It’s Not Just for President Anymore – Editorial 4/15/04

Elections for student government have not been very popular at UMass Boston in the past. Last year, less than nine percent of eligible students voted.

On April 20, 21 and 22, students have another chance to participate in the selection of their leaders. If you’re not planning to vote, what’s your excuse? Contrary to popular belief, the senate is relevant, recent changes make your vote both more informed and influential than ever before and the process itself is ridiculously easy.

If the fact the senate controls half a million dollars of students’ money doesn’t persuade you voting is important, consider this: Two years of budget cuts have hit students hard with over $2,000 in fee hikes and major cuts in financial aid, and the senate are the first students that the administration consults over important campus issues such as these. Helping choose your representative means having a say in what happens to your money.

For anyone thinking the elections are just a popularity contest, things have changed. This year, debates are being prepared for April 14 and 15 that Undergraduate Student Senate President Susan Smith says will prove to be “much more substantive” than past debates. Over twenty questions have been prepared concerning issues such as financial aid, budget cuts, communication with students and Chancellor Gora’s “Three R’s.” This approach to the debates should force wannabe senators to think through what the job entails, and it gives students an excellent opportunity to find the candidates that they best see eye-to-eye with.

The current senate has also made some proposals for positive changes to the election process. First, students would be able to directly elect their senate president, and second, part-time students would become eligible to vote. Both these proposals have to be approved by the administration before they are put into effect, which probably won’t happen before this election, but these are two constructive suggestions for improvement, proving the senate is heading in the right direction and worth a little thought.

This election doesn’t just fill senators’ seats. This year, there are two candidates running for student trustee, the person who represents UMB students to the Board of Trustees (the people who approve tuition hikes). And MassPIRG’s bi-annual referendum question which decides whether or not they can put a waivable fee on your tuition bill is also up for re-approval.

Reforms already in place remove any excuse for not casting a ballot. For the last few years, online ballots have made voting simple, timely and easy. The website links to the platform statements of the candidates, so if you missed the debates you can still find out who stands for what. If you don’t like any of the candidates, you can write someone in. At most, voting will take you five minutes. Have one less cup of coffee and you’ve found the time.

Voice your opinion- vote!