In South Africa’s last general elections in 1999, 86 percent of its citizens determined who would govern their country.
An even bigger percentage of Western students failed to come out last Tuesday to determine how the Student Government Association was going to govern its body.
Only 132 out of 18,000 students voted on SGA’s new constitution. The majority vote of 116, or six-tenths of one percent of students, determined that SGA could implement the constitution this fall.
There could be a hundred reasons why the remaining 18,000 or so students decided not to vote. Perhaps they forgot. Perhaps they felt uninformed. Perhaps they were too busy. Perhaps they just didn’t care.
Regardless of the reason, the low voter turnout resulted in a small group of students having a great amount of power to voice their opinions. This is a trend that isn’t just happening at Western’s campus, but nationwide. Almost four years ago, the nation saw how a mere 500 votes changed the results of a presidential election.
Students, whatever the reason you had for not coming out on Tuesday, realize there’s a lot more at stake today and tomorrow. You have the opportunity to determine who will voice your opinions and concerns to the administration by voting for students in executive positions and senate seats. You have an opportunity to decide on the leaders who will shape Western in the future.
The students who will be your president, vice president and vice president for administration will drive the organization itself. They will be in charge of making SGA an effective organization for you.
The president, as your student regent, will be your only voice in the Board of Regents. They make the final decisions on everything that affects students, from new parking structures to tuition hikes.
Don’t forget to vote for the senate members as well. These members are not only representing the student body as a whole, but also the interests of people in the same grade classification. Under this new system, every freshman, sophomore, junior and senior will have someone they can go to. It will be up to you to determine that everyone has the right person to count on.
This is the first time in several years that all the executive positions are contested. You have a choice. In the end, if the wrong person is on the job and you didn’t vote, you will have no right to complain.
The Herald has a special section in today’s paper that has information about all the candidates, so being uninformed is not an excuse. Really, there shouldn’t be an excuse to not exercise a freedom that so many people have given their lives for.
It would be absurd if six-tenths of one percent of the Board of Regents voted for a $200 tuition increase. No one would be able to stand that.
But if you let apathy, forgetfulness and busyness prevent you from voting this week, six-tenths of one percent may determine what is best for Western.
This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 9-member board of student editors.