IN OUR OPINION
Participation in this spring’s Student Government Association elections and Union Board festivities have been less than overwhelming, prompting many on campus, including members of The Tech Talk staff, to wonder why.
Only 7 percent of the student population voted in SGA elections and estimates place approximately 1200 people at the UB concert, which was open to the public.
What makes spring elections even more dismal is the fact that the majority of executive positions were unopposed. Is this a problem with the student body or SGA?
Members of The Tech Talk staff found the answer hard to pinpoint but agreed that lack of participation among those in big organizations like SGA does not encourage participation among those outside the organization. On more than one occasion this school year, the SGA has failed to meet quorum to even hold a meeting. This behavior is not conducive to garnering candidates or votes.
Union Board, however, is more entertainment-oriented. One might think this would lend itself to more activity among students–– and to an extent it seems this is true. Twelve hundred concert attendees is more than 7 percent of the student body, but we cannot be sure how many of those 1,200 people were Tech students and how many are local high school students or members of the Ruston community.
During fall quarter, The Tech Talk staff discussed the NeedToBreathe concert and brushed off the idea that UB should appeal to the family values of the Ruston community. This is not to say that students want vulgar or obscene performances, but instead, The Tech Talk staff agrees that decisions about what bands perform should largely be left to the student body, not a small group of students in UB. All students pay a fee for UB entertainment; why should they just have to stand by while the organization hands out $80,000 for a band many students don’t like?
Due to low turnout at the Ryan Cabrera show, some have suggested that UB could have cut that performance and used the money saved to put toward a better, more renowned band than Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
One of the issues involved is that of commuter students. Tech has long been known as a commuter campus, but that does not mean SGA and UB cannot find ways to reach out to these students and keep them on campus to attend events for vote. To do this would mean the groups have to truly make it worthwhile for students who spend limited amounts of time on campus. It is highly probable that these students simply are not around enough to invest time or effort into going to concerts or voting. This should show UB and SGA that it’s the little things that can make big differences. If the groups can impact those who commute every day, imagine what they can do for the students who are here all the time.
Whether it is right or wrong, it’s obvious the majority of the student body does not value the services provided by SGA or UB. However, these are services for which we all pay as students. One cannot fix apathy, but large organizations with the means to do so owe it to the students to provide all students with viable entertainment options and a reason to vote. These groups may be trying now, but more can be done.