Student Government Fall elections are upon us. And although recent meteorological conditions have attempted to blow them off course, they will continue as planned Oct. 3.
Considering the traction these elections have garnered both in-person and online, I’ve found it nearly impossible to forget about their occurrence.
My once leisurely, quiet strolls through the Reitz Union have become light jogs — with my walking pace increasing significantly to stop me from getting swept up by SG representatives.
With promotions for SG being almost inescapable, one would expect everyone on campus to be voting in the current election. I mean, if you’re aware it’s happening, are a UF student and possess a GatorONE card, there’s virtually no reason not to.
Well, the reality of voter participation at UF is pretty grim.
Recent data has shown about 14% of UF students voted last year. Look at it this way: for every 1,000 students on campus, a mere 140 actually casted their ballots at a polling location.
UF students have notoriously expressed their disinterest in SG elections. Whether due to ineffective advertising from candidates or awkward voting times, these feelings are often written off nonchalantly. The act of not voting, to some, logically follows the belief there are more important things to dedicate time to.
Many students claim to not care. But what if I told you that they’re tricking themselves into thinking that?
Contrary to popular belief, UF’s student government isn’t just some conglomerate of hopefuls who chase potential voters around Turlington. This organization controls some of the most important aspects of the student experience, with their influence being observed in nearly every sector of campus.
Academic initiatives, extracurricular funding and guest events — to name a few — are directly affected by SG branches at UF. Whether you realize it or not, this organization possesses a stake in your social and academic life as a student.
But as digitally active beings, most students are aware of this influence. We’ve all read complaints about guest speakers that SG have brought to campus, and have dreamt up realities where an SG-funded, 24-hour library exists.
SG plays an important role on campus. So why aren’t people voting?
Students do care about SG. Given the influence that SG has on our on-campus experiences as students, it would be difficult for them not to. But it’s the lack of faith they have in their own votes that keeps them from being politically active.
In the many conversations I’ve heard about election season, one phrase has stuck out to me.
The same party wins every election – there’s really no point in voting.
This very common belief reveals students are often frustrated with the results SG elections generate. When their preferred party doesn’t win, they decide their ballot didn’t do enough — they lose faith in the power of their own vote.
The truth is, choosing to not vote doesn’t help anyone. The less students vote, the less accurate image SG members have of student opinion on campus, and the less students will be satisfied with election results. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The solution is simple: Take your frustrations to the polls.
Polls will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. this Monday, at the following locations:
Broward Recreation Room
Health Science Center Library
Levin School of Law BGH Student Commons Dining
Norman Hall Educational Library
Reitz Union Printing Lab
Southwest Recreation Center
Springs Library and Recreation Room
Have faith in your ballot. Cast your vote!
Halima Attah is The Alligator's opinions editor.
Halima Attah is a first-year journalism student at UF and the opinion editor for The Alligator. You can find some of her other work on her podcast, “A Little Perspective,” on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.