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Low voter turnouts not all students’ fault

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

Evan Watson/The News

Evan Watson/The News

The 2014 elections for the Student Government Association came to an end Wednesday when SGA adviser Jeanie Morgan announced the results at All-Campus Sing.

Of the 9,973 eligible voters, 889 took the time to log into MyGate and participate.

Despite the week-long explosion of campaigns, Facebook posts and preparation by candidates, 9 percent of the student population was moved enough to vote.

While it would be easy to say Murray State is the only University that displays lack of interest in student politics, this is not the case.

The University of Kentucky, which has a staggering total enrollment of more than 28,928 students, had 5,205 students vote in its 2014 SGA elections.

Western Kentucky University, which has consistently enrolled more than 21,000 students over the past 15 years, had 908 casting ballots received for its SGA?elections.

Compared to Western’s 2.3 percent voter turnout, Murray State’s 9 percent looks pretty good. Out of the three universities mentioned, Kentucky pulled the highest numbers with a 17 percent election turnout.

Despite having the highest percentage of voters, Kentucky has nothing to brag about. The numbers for these elections are abysmal across the board. On what can we blame this student sense of apathy?

Some would say it comes with the status quo of the millennial generation, which is stereotypically lazy and uninvolved. But is that an explanation we are willing to accept to explain a statewide, and even national problem? Universities across the country are having trouble getting students involved in campus politics, period.

Ivy League schools, despite having significantly higher voter counts than public universities in Kentucky, are still missing the mark. Brown University, which had the lowest voter turnout of all the Ivy League schools, had 28 percent of students hit the polls for the Undergraduate Council of Students elections.

It’s easy to say that students are the primary reason these elections have such little weight within the student community, but maybe there are things that Murray State can also do to restore interest in student-governed political organizations.

It is imperative to inform students that their voice is not drowned out by the authority of the Board of Regents, our president or other high-power positions on campus.

The SGA?has influence on the future of campus policies and budgets, despite the age of its members, which should instill confidence that we can make a difference here.

Students running for SGA positions campaigned on social media independently, but Murray State’s official Facebook and Twitter did little besides posting the ballot and announcing the results.

University social media accounts, which garner thousands of followers and likes, should use their wide reach to steer attention to these online campaigns. With 23,475 likes on its Facebook page and 9,103 Twitter followers, one announcement made by Murray State’s social media could have made a difference.

Ultimately, it is up to us to develop a sense of civic duty to participate in the SGA?elections, but Murray State needs to meet us halfway – to inform students about the importance of the election and bolster opinions and higher involvement.