Amid graduate student rallies for increased stipends, an unfulfilled need for increased study space on campus and an ongoing discussion about how to alleviate concerns over coronavirus, the student political party CalSERVE is concerned with allegedly stolen campaign files.
Although investigations are ongoing, the controversy is representative of the ASUC’s mismanaged priorities. To be clear, the student government is extremely vital to the student population. With the pivotal responsibility of adequately representing the student body, it seems to be falling short of achieving key goals. It is the ASUC’s job to advocate for students, full stop, but there’s something fundamentally inefficient about it when most of the ASUC’s members focus more on internal politics than fighting for improving the student experience.
Furthermore, the spring 2019 elections scandal regarding Student Action’s financial misuse demonstrates little regard for student advocacy or transparency, and more for covering up electoral mishaps, getting candidates into office and violating bylaws to secure votes. How is the student population supposed to put its trust in an organization in which elected candidates seem most concerned about covering up potential mishaps and garnering as many votes as possible than anything else?
The spring 2019 elections only highlight a fraction of the controversies that the ASUC has been embroiled with and showcases a lack of commitment to the student body. With former ASUC senator Milton Zerman’s recent resignation, a newly elected senator is filling the vacant spot with minimal time to effectively implement any substantial policies.
Instead of throwing in the towel and stepping down after a public debacle, elected officials need to realize the gravity of their positions before they run. The voting student body places its trust in elected officials the moment ASUC ballots are cast. Holding office is undoubtedly a huge responsibility, but it is one that elected officials need to see through because the student body should not have to be complacent with empty promises.
Many students recognize that petty politics have become synonymous with ASUC elections. The spring 2019 election saw a 5 % decrease in voter turnout from the previous year. Recent memory has shown that ASUC voter turnout typically ranges from 25-28% of the student body, meaning that the ASUC is engaging much less than half of the entire student body in every election.
Although speculations on decreased voter turnout center on there being a lack of information available about the elections, a variety of past election violations certainly don’t help either. The student body has become disillusioned with ASUC elections, as parties have become little more than their long-standing reputations rather than their tangible accomplishments.
The bottom line is that the ASUC must commit to fostering trust between candidates and the student population in order to re-engage students to feel motivated and informed enough to vote. In the upcoming spring elections, ASUC candidates are challenged to bridge the gap between petty politics and actual work.