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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Participation lacking in student democracy

Published: April 26, 2013
Section: Editorials

It’s an exciting time for the Student Union as new and old candidates run to fill open seats and participate in their government. But it would be even more exciting if the student body took it seriously and more students voted in elections.

With only 1,360 students voting in this week’s second round of elections, including the question about a divestment petition, the results reflect less than half of the undergraduate population.

Brandeis students are known for their interest in activism and club leadership. But complaints about Student Union transparency and communication with the student body can’t be considered legitimate if students don’t encourage one another to vote in higher numbers.

One of the agenda items for the incoming Union administration should be to mobilize participation and increase the voting percentage significantly.

The recent divestment campaign reflects the success of organizing student support and democratic participation. Nearly 99 percent of those who voted in the election voted for the question on the divestment petition. It comes as no surprise as to why. Leaders of this movement spent months campaigning and reaching out to different student groups and leaders to engage in conversations about the issues they cared about most.

While it’s exciting that the petition passed, the process and campus activism surrounding the campaign is equally as exciting.

Students need to take the energy and attention surrounding that petition and apply it to other campaigns and elections. Voting needs to be viewed as an exciting opportunity, not something taken for granted.