UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Attention: The Senate Elections Happened!

As many students probably didn’t realize-and clearly didn’t participate in-two weeks ago the UMB Student Senate held their elections for the 2003-2004 academic year.

The Mass Media’s article last week, “Low Turnout Selects New Senate, Trustee” pointed out that despite the senate’s resolute efforts to promote participation in the elections, voter turnout declined by 166 votes-thirty percent since last year’s election-and was less than three percent of the 13,000 students who are the UMB electorate.

Despite this year’s plethora of poor press pertaining to particular senators, the sundry of student senators should receive more than just a modicum of students’ attention, if for no other reason than that they control five hundred thousand dollars of students’ money.

The increasing student disassociation from the senate cannot be explained simply as a lack of visibility on the part of the student government, or an inability to effect change. During the campaign period the senate held debates and promoted the extremely easy and convenient online voting system, but their feeble advertising campaign, compared to past senate elections, does illuminate some of the leadership’s shortfalls. However, UMB community members have a personal responsibility, like in any other community, to participate in public affairs. Active participation in the community is the only way to keep the government working for your interests; it is why the system’s called “democracy.”

What’s most unsettling about the decline in student participation is that it comes on the heals of the thousand dollar increase in student fees coupled with Governor Romney’s plans to cut state funding to the UMass system. Every student should be interested in UMB’s monetary situation since the funds represent an increasing percentage of each student’s income.

Many predict that the decline in UMB’s actively voting electorate will be reversed upon the completion of the student center building. The centralization of student affairs brought by the new center is hoped to promote student socializing closer to levels seen at more traditional colleges.

Though the new building may have this effect, voter apathy is a nationwide epidemic. Universities should be preparing people not just for being leaders but also for being active members of the electorate. Politics affects everyone in every profession; all departments at UMB need to be more aggressive at promoting student involvement in campus affairs.