ASU’s Tempe campus: a city of uninformed

Published On:
Monday, February 9, 2009
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ASU’s Tempe campus is a city unto itself. A student can hardly navigate campus during “rush hour” (i.e. the 15-minute passing period) by walking, let alone on bike or longboard. There are high-rise condos going up around campus, as well as the skyrocketing cost of living and our education. It would be remiss if we did not mention the ever-growing population of students; maybe ASU is the only city in the country with a housing boom.

It is also important to acknowledge that the campus has its very own government, Undergraduate Student Government, which is made up of an executive branch, as well as a senate.

As citizens of this city, it is imperative we know what is going on in our metropolis and within our student government. Unfortunately, USG does not make this easy for us.

The USGSenate Bill 81, which was introduced last Tuesday, concerns how candidates contact students. The bill prohibits candidates from using “contact information for the purpose of campaigning if that information was collected as a part of a USG event, service or issue campaign.”

In short, candidates would have to start from scratch with their contact lists under the bill. But the bill failed because this policy was already in the elections code.

The purpose of the bill and the elections code are to protect the privacy of students and to give all candidates that run in the election a fair chance. If one candidate were an incumbent, then he or she would have much easier access to USG information and contacts than his or her opponents.

I respect our student government highly for keeping ethics in mind during election season, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of voter education. I am not advocating that we make everybody’s contact information public. Merely, a student must give USG permission to contact them during election season.

If student government members asked at every event whether students were interested in being contacted come election season, candidates would not start from square one with their contact lists. Each ticket could then receive identical contact lists.

This would help student awareness, which has been a problem in the past. Only 4,300 students voted in the 2006-2007 school year, whereas the 2007-2008 school year turnout was even smaller; only 2,959 students turned out to vote.

This shows that students should be in touch with the candidates. How else would we know which platform belonged to which candidate? It would have a positive effect on voter turnout.

Oftentimes, it seems that as a nation we show up at the polls and just vote. We see a name on the ballot that is familiar, and vote for that person thinking, “They managed to stay in office this long, so they can’t be that bad.” This is why incumbency rates are at or around 90 percent. Somehow that does not correlate with the general distrust of government, though. It is a political paradox that I do not understand.

Sometimes the habits built in college will carry you through life. ASU and its student leaders wouldn’t want to be known for fostering ignorant citizens, would they?

Andrew plans to announce his USG presidency campaign in the coming weeks. He can receive running mate applications at andrew.hedlund@asu.edu.