The recent voter turnout for the four Student Senate executive positions was extremely disappointing. At a school of about 1,400 students, only 405 students voted for next year’s student leadership.
This is not the only case of recent low voter turnout, as the local Galesburg mayoral race presented a similar trend. In precinct 13, the precinct in which Knox is located, only 16 percent of registered voters casted their ballot.
This lack of engagement has to change.
After Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, students were vocal about trying to battle political complacency. Students held meetings to learn about calling representatives, met to make those calls and resources on being an effective activist circulated across major social media platforms. There was a surge in dialogue about how citizens can make their voices and the voices of others heard.
Select students urged their peers, and some still do, to make an active effort to be more involved in local politics. While this obviously applies to student participation in Galesburg politics, we believe this also applies to our own student government.
Voting on every level, even in a community as small as Knox, is important.
We don’t see excitement about getting involved in local or campus politics here at Knox. It’s easy to talk big about issues that you are dissatisfied with, but it’s also easy to step back when there’s an opportunity to address it within our own community. Though it requires a little bit of effort, it is easy to show up at a Senate debate or meeting to voice an opinion or ask a question. It is simple to reach out to student government or club leaders to learn more about something happening on campus and the ways you can get involved. If students want to see change on this campus, they need to make a concerted effort to break from their daily lives and schedules and that starts with showing up.
Voting in the recent Senate election required very little effort. The ballots were sent out via email, students didn’t have to register or go anywhere to participate. It would take less than five minutes for most people to cast a vote. There’s no excuse for failing to participate.
If students can’t break their complacency on the campus level, how are they going to get involved on a larger political scale? Start small, take on the communities closest to you to create change, care about issues and make your voice be known. Campus is a perfect place to do that.
With that said, the Knox student body has one more chance to cast their vote before all Senate positions are filled for the 2017-2018 academic year. Ballots will open on Friday to vote for the candidates for Senate’s five chair positions, and they will remain open until Sunday night. Make your vote count, and don’t let your involvement on campus and in Galesburg stop there.