It’s the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and that means it’s time to select another group of Michigan Student Assembly representatives. Voter turnout has slumped consistently over the last five years, dropping from 17 percent to 9 percent, and considering that this year’s “campaign” has been underwhelming, the pattern is likely to continue.
A lasting disconnect has kept MSA’s finger off the campus pulse, and student concerns often go unaddressed. But both sides of the aisle are at fault. For every student interest that goes overlooked, there are a dozen MSA initiatives that pass without due credit. Though most students don’t recognize it, student government continues to play an active and important role on campus.
As with any system of government, the sources of apathy are numerous. Some students blame their disillusionment on a constantly fluctuating party system; others point to a lack of communication and outreach on MSA’s part. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that barring a dramatic restructuring, student participation in the current system will remain scarce.
Declining participation does worse than removing accountability from a voting system; it delegitimizes it. Students are perennially complaining that “MSA does nothing” or that “MSA is too political,” yet students hardly ever take an interest in the group. If students wish to change it MSA, they must become involved in the process – and that starts with voting today.