Most of us can remember the day when our parents demanded we clean our rooms, do our homework or stop fighting with our brothers or sisters. For the fear of being yelled at or grounded, we followed through with the chores. That precious time has since come and gone. It has left a burden on us to make responsible decisions affecting our own lives and the people around us. On Thursday, April 5, full-time students with 12 or more credits will have the choice to vote in the Lawrenceville SGA elections. Westminster students will get their chance on Tuesday, April 17.
No one will be there to force you to walk over to the Lawrenceville Student Recreation Center between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to cast your ballot or to Thayer Lounge between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the Princeton campus the next week. (Princeton students may also vote online.) In earnest, you may be asking, “Why should I bother to vote?” or “Will the outcome really affect my life?” Rather than taking the advice of your friend who says he or she is “too busy to take the time” or “it’s just a waste of time,” consider the trend our fellow peers have been setting.
Ever since 1996, when fewer than 350 students voted, turnout has slowly but surely risen, according to Lawrenceville SGA adviser Cassie Iacovelli. By 2002, 651 individuals made it a point to participate. Turnout reached an all-time high at 992 in 2005; it dipped to 788 last year, which many attributed to the number of uncontested races. Only time will tell how many students in 2007 exercise their right to shape the future.
But actions do speak louder than words, or in this case, numbers. The Lawrenceville SGA has taken a stance on a number of issues working to advance the interest of students and improve the overall conditions of the campus. After a soaking rainstorm, any student can tell you a horror story of having to dodge puddles of mud and dirty water on the way to class. The Lawrenceville SGA did not sit by idly. Instead, the organization channeled this frustration and the end result is that Facilities Management will be installing new drains around campus hopefully resolving this soggy issue once and for all. In addition, the Student Senate consulted with Facilities Management concerning the gravel lot, heat in Gee Hall and other pending renovations to other residence halls.
In an effort to ease the congestion at the South Entrance after the main gate is closed, the Lawrenceville SGA propelled the efforts to get the card swipe working. At last it has been activated and is ready for use. Many new clubs and organizations have also been recognized this year, increasing the opportunities available for students to participate in. Sustainable Rider, Student Athlete Mentors and Forensics Club are a few examples of the latest recognized organizations.
Beyond the results that are clearly visible to the campus community, the Lawrenceville SGA and Student Senate are also working behind the scenes. The Food Service Committee has met with the Senate on a number of occasions to discuss the ongoing developments. Currently, the possibility of a Starbucks coming onto campus is being discussed. Regardless of whether this actually comes to fruition, does this not prove the backbone the Lawrenceville SGA has to lobby on behalf of the students? Better yet, this goes to show the credibility the organization has garnered with the administration of the University. Before making any changes, the administration has become more receptive to consulting with the Lawrenceville SGA and Student Senate.
When it comes down to it, voting in the Lawrenceville and Princeton SGA elections really does matter. And for the most part, students on both campuses recognize the importance of this civic duty to the Rider community. More than half of the students polled by The Rider News said they were very or somewhat likely to vote. Unfortunately, that still leaves 42 percent very or somewhat unlikely to vote. A poll respondent very unlikely to vote in the elections said, “I’m a senior and the outcome will have little effect on me.” But with any bit of luck, the evidence of what the Lawrenceville SGA and Student Senate have done in the past months will convince a few more minds to vote.