Next week, students will go to the polls to choose a new president of the Student Government Association … in theory, at least.
The lack of turnout for SGA elections has become a punchline, so low as to be a bad joke. It seems students will take the time to complain about what the president of SGA?does or does not do, but will not take the time to cast a ballot for their one, and only, representative on the Board of Regents.
Students complain SGA?doesn’t represent them. How can they, when students, the vast majority of them anyway, aren’t voting? Students complain that Greek organizations have undue influence over SGA. But really, why shouldn’t they? Greeks are consistent voters as far as the student body goes and are consistently more involved than other segments of the student population. If students as a whole are not voting, if they are not making their voices heard through the ballot, then they have no grounds and no right to complain.
Shared governance becomes a joke when students abdicate their responsibility to govern. Student government itself becomes illegitimate when only a small minority even bothers to vote.
Democracy takes many forms. Protesting, “occupying” something, petitioning, voting – all of these in some form are political acts. They represent a means by which our voices are heard and grievances aired. Voting is the most important of these, because it establishes a link between the people’s will and the actions of those who govern. It is the chain that binds the people with the powerful, the act by which consent is given by the governed to those who govern.
Not voting, in addition to relieving those who sit out of the right to complain, is essentially an affirmation of the status quo. Silence thus becomes consent, and those who sit out have in effect voted with their silence. Those students who deride the actions of the SGA, but have not voted, are in effect deriding themselves, and rightfully so.
We can’t make you vote next week, and we wouldn’t even if we could. All we can do is lead you to make the deicision yourself.
The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.