May 1, 2022

STUDENT ASSEMBLY VIEWPOINT | Let’s Fight Apathy By Voting

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Every day, Cornellians face a host of challenges, including a return to in-person learning, enormous course workloads and pressure to navigate increasingly complicated job and graduate school application processes. At times, it can make even the strongest of us feel hopeless and powerless. So, today I encourage you to reclaim that power. Use your voices to demand better. Vote in this spring’s Student Assembly elections from May 2 to May 4.

Cornell’s system of student governance, at its best, is truly unique. It provides an unparalleled opportunity, especially at a world-renowned Ivy League institution, for students to be heard and for undergraduates to be the voice of change. It provides ways for undergraduates to engage with graduate and professional students, employees, faculty and the administration and enact meaningful policies to improve the Cornell experience.

Yet, it’s no secret around campus that in years past, there has been general student apathy and distrust towards these systems of shared governance — the SA in particular. Among top universities, Cornell still has extraordinarily low rates of voter turnout and engagement with our system of shared governance, even despite Cornell Votes’ work to increase turnout in the Spring and Fall semesters of 2021. This has manifested in a number of ways this academic year, from a lower number of candidates seeking SA office, to limited attendance at SA meetings. Many people feel that the SA does not represent them or adequately cater to the needs of the student body. I would go so far as to argue that in many cases, those feelings are justified.

But we, the student body, have the power to change this. We have the power to create accountability in the SA. Let’s do it. Let’s vote.

Do you believe that mental health resources on campus are inadequate? Vote, and create a groundswell of support that your representatives and the administration cannot possibly ignore. Do you believe recreational and exercise facilities must be made available to all students? Vote, and bring it into existence. Do you believe that there should be parameters for how the University spends its money? Vote, and create that system of accountability. Do you believe laundry should be free in dorms? Vote, and make the SA hear us. These are just a few of the things that we can demand from next year’s SA with our votes.

This semester, voting in SA elections will be incredibly easy. On May 2 at noon, you will receive an email with a link to vote in SA elections. We at Cornell Votes, the SA and the Office of the Assemblies will do our very best to remind you as many times as possible, on social media and via email, before voting closes on Wednesday, May 4 at 2 p.m.

Voting will take less than two minutes, and I highly encourage everyone on campus to do so once they receive the email. Let’s prove to the Cornell community that we, the undergraduate student body, are invested in how this University is governed. Let’s create accountability in the Student Assembly.

Let’s vote.

Isaac Chasen is the Director of Elections for the Student Assembly and a junior in the Dyson School. Isaac is this week’s author of Student Assembly Viewpoint, a rotating column written by members of the SA. Comments may be sent to [email protected] Student Assembly Viewpoint runs every other Thursday this semester.