Though Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act limits on-campus political groups’ endorsements of specific platforms and candidates, students can’t let past party affiliations determine their votes in the Nov. election
Let’s face the fact that is laid out plainly by our college voting record: students don’t care, at least, most of them don’t. Take the cabinet elections for Grand Valley State University’s Student Senate – for the last two years, only one percent of the student population voted. And though the voter turnout of Student Senate elections at a smallish Midwest university aren’t necessarily comparable as the upcoming presidential election, the fact remains – as the next generation of leaders, we can’t continue to take advantage of our right to vote.
In fact, in the light of recent legislature passed in Michigan, our ability to express and explore our opinions and political beliefs may be more important than ever. Essentially, what Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act does is bar student organizations from providing materials, services or facilities of ascertainable monetary value in support of or opposition to a specific candidate or ballot question. And though GVSU still supports the free speech of students on campus through areas like the blue Transformation Link and the Cook Carillion clock tower, overt support of one platform will become strictly prohibited.
So while the culture of political endorsement is, though with well intentions, effectively stunted, we as students have the responsibility to pick up where the College Republican and Democrat groups can’t. More specifically, and never more pertinently with the upcoming November election, we are tasked with the responsibility of exploring each candidates viewpoints, and not just accepting the reality which, at some point in each of our lives, we were presented with. Too many students have been reared in families markedly and stubbornly tied to a certain political party. If they’ve been raised X and their friends and family are X, all they’ll ever know is X.
Though we are technically bonafide adults, we are still the youth population. We are much more capable than generations before us of stepping outside of the confines of “set ways.” In the 2008 presidential election, the support of 66 percent of voters ages 18-29 put the first African-American president in office. Whether or not you agree with Obama’s policy, those numbers are a testament to our political power, but we can’t exercise that power within the confines of ignorance. So why not let the lazy and narrow-minded hear from the staunchest supporters of both sides? If the College Democrats don’t try to push Obama’s agenda, how will the Republican students who avoid all left-wing media come to see the other perspective? And without the College Republicans, how will the liberals start to see past their own idealism?
Popular on-campus vendor Tye Dye Thom said it best in an article published in today’s issue of the Lanthorn when talking about debating politics with students on campus: “that’s what makes the strength of our country, is that we believe differently from each other…I’m trying to see if they will let me make a point, if they will let me allow them to make a point – the idea of, you know, listen ‘I just spoke, now you speak, now I speak.”
So let’s sling some mud, GVSU. Let’s start some conversations, and maybe some shouting matches under the blue Transformation Link. Let’s show Michigan that we are capable of making up our minds without an obvious endorsement on-campus.