Washburn University is experiencing a new kind of epdiemic. The number of those that actually engage in campus politics has decreased at an accelerating rate. The number of those people stepping to a voting both is low and the number of people who even know the platforms of candidates are even lower. It becomes problematic when students can’t even answer the basic question, “What does Washburn Student Government Association actually do?”
In the spring of 2011, Taylor McGown and Michael Kitowski won the presidential race for Washburn University’s Student Government, beating out Rizki Aljupri and Nicholas Campbell with a vote count of 448-281. Slightly less than 800 students voted in the presidential race.
Fast forward to the spring of 2012, Eric Benedict and Caprice Cortez won their presidential race largely unopposed despite the decision to switch out the vice presidential nominee halfway through the election season. In the spring of 2013, Shelbie Konkel and Jessie McGown won 53 percent of the votes; 282 votes to be exact.
Less than 600 people voted in the presidential elections. Spring of 2014 is here and the election season presents students with only one official candidacy once again.
The vote count and sparse number of candidates in election should be concerning for the student body of Washburn, but no one seems to be alarmed. It’s as if a culture of apathy has been systemically integrated to the culture of Washburn.
Even just focusing on the voter count alone it’s troubling to believe that less than 10 percent of the students voted in the elections considering that voting booths were stationed in the student union and the Living Learning Center.
The Washburn Student Government Association (WSGA) receives student activity fees from every student and is in charge of not only funding their own projects, but is also responsible for allocating money to multiple student organizations as well.
They are the financial oversight to the funding request of crucial events that require thousands of dollars. It is precisely this reason that voter apathy presents a paradoxical situation.
Why is it that WSGA is allowed to keep a record of what student organizations do year round, but WSGA is not held to the same standard by the student body?
Not only were the votes sparse to begin with, but as the years have continued the number of votes have decreased.
Perhaps the feeling of voter apathy has intersected with the idea of running altogether. Two of the past four years present a tacit political climate with only one clear frontrunner.
In both cases, the candidates have already been in WSGA for a few years and are recognized by the elected senators.
The races have seen a lack of physical promotion material on campus and energetic races. It is now considered a rare gesture for a presidential ticket to organize times with student organizations and ask them what they would like to see in the next WSGA administration. Needless to say, today’s race is a safe race.