Last month, Albion College students voted on Proposal 1, a new constitution for Student Senate. The proposal passed, but was also proof of the low voter turnout which plagues the college.
Casey Hoffman, Menominee senior and Student Senate president, cites less than 100 people voted.
On a campus of roughly 1,600 students, a voter turnout of even 100 is only 6.25 percent of the campus.
There are several reasons for a low voter turnout. Many people will vote at first during their first year here but then lose motivation to vote again.
“Last time I voted was last year (freshman year), first semester ,” said Anna Ward, Traverse City sophomore. “I don’t see a lot of voting going on.”
Regardless, Student Senate is trying to find way they can motivate students to vote.
“I think a lot is either they don’t know about it or they don’t care,” Hoffman said. “There’s either an apathy, or they don’t know voting ‘s taking place, or they don’t care terribly what student government is doing.”
However, Student Senate is in the process of making a change in order to increase the voting turnout.
“We’re going to do mass campus-wide email votes instead of voting in the KC or going to an actual laptop to vote electronically,” Hoffman said. “Students will be able to vote in their pajamas in their dorm rooms.”
Hoffman believes that this will result in more people voting, but others are not so hopeful.
“Stuff that comes through the college people won’t read,” said Andrew Hurteau, Grand Rapids senior. “The stakes are higher but that doesn’t mean email’s the best option. I see that providing no benefit.”
The new method of email voting is being planned in the upcoming election for new president and vice-president of Student Senate.
Candidates must submit their application with 200 signatures by March 28. Voting will take place April 10-12 and on Friday the 13, the winners of the campaign will be announced.
As a recent alum, I have to say I’m also concerned that the new method won’t increase voter turnout by a significant margin. One of the reasons I rarely voted for any sort of student senate campaigns was because of the lack of communication between student senate and the student population. Perhaps I was too focused on my studies to notice communication efforts, but student senate always seemed to be this untouchable entity that was constantly at war with student organizations for one thing or another. Reasons for senate decisions were often generic, glossed-over responses that served only to further alienate senators from students. I believe that student senate has the power to be an integral part of the Albion student experience, whether it’s offering students leadership opportunities as a senator or working with students to make some real changes on campus. It’s just a matter of proper communication and policy-making efforts.