EDITO: UBE and students must make efforts to preserve their autonomy – Le Cavalier Daily
Autonomy is a principle of which we are proud, but it is an empty ideal without effort on the part of the institutions that govern us and the students they represent. The University Board of Elections has had a tough few semesters within its organization, and voters turn out remains weak. Autonomy, which requires elections organized by the UBE, must be taken seriously – by both the UBE and the student body. This year’s elections are crucial. The honor committee organizes a constitutional convention to rewrite its constitution after the biggest change in its history. The student council provides essential resources for student success. The University Judiciary Committee must continue to hold members of the community to high standards of citizenship. Ahead of this year’s election cycle, we call on the UBE to invest in member retention, voter education and social media outreach to improve voter turnout.
UBE has faced organizational challenges in its mission, both internal and external. This year, the group president resigned due to an increased academic workload. It follows a disturbing pattern – the president of last year also resigned position at the start of the academic year. With leadership constantly taking charge and abdicating authority, it is impossible to pull yourself together and get organized. The lack of stable leadership within UBE threatens its effectiveness, but is also downright confusing to an already bewildered student body.
That being said, the student body has little to no idea what UBE is or does. To significantly increase the low turnout, UBE needs to become a more active part of our community. It should invest in educating students not only about election details, but also candidate platforms. By voting, students are making a difference – as we can see from the recent revision of the unique sanction system of the honor committee. However, this cannot happen without proper education. This can be achieved through a myriad of strategies – class visits, social events and social media promotion are just the start. No one engages in what they don’t understand, and if students had adequate knowledge of the election process, we are optimistic, they would likely be more willing to vote.
The lack of engagement is very evident – the highest turnout among students last year was in the aforementioned honor referendum. Even still, this turn out was only 6,010 students, or 23.8% of the student body – not even a quarter of the student body. We suspect that this strong involvement was most likely the result of frequent outside visits explanations and endorsements for or against the proposed referendum, rather than any effort by the UBE itself. To increase participation, the UBE should invest in what has the potential to be its most powerful asset: social media. While the UBE has always tried to increase voter turnout with election gifts, they should opt for more educational methods so that students vote responsibly. Although it has an outreach and marketing section, UBE does not make the effort to reach out to the student body. Given the weakness of the group Next, an even more engaging solution would be to partner with other organizations to reach more students. Taking this advertising route would send a message that more accurately reflects UBE’s mission and the best interests of students – students should vote because elections determine the direction of autonomy on the grounds, not just because they are offers free bagels.
We recognize that the UBE alone cannot improve voter turnout. A significant part of the effort must come from the students themselves. Following the passage of last year’s honor referendum, students should feel empowered that their voice can truly justify change. If UBE is indeed doing more to increase voter turnout, students must be receptive. Freshmen should be targeted when it comes to voter turnout efforts – they will be more likely to engage in the novelty of self-government on the ground. All students, however, have a responsibility to engage with the University’s student policy. So, students, read the UBE, research the candidates and their concerns, and recognize your ability to change policy. The University is not too big and you are not too small to make a difference.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief, the Managing Editor, the two Opinion Editors, the two Senior Associates and an Opinion Columnist. The board can be reached at [email protected]