Isabelle Jung / Sun Graphics Editor

March 31, 2024

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | To the Disengaged: Voting Is Important

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When I was first sworn in as the new Director of Elections for the Student Assembly, I inherited a roughly 15 percent voter turnout rate and a campus which was — nearly entirely — politically disengaged with Cornell student government. I know this because I was one of these students.

I did not vote in the fall Student Assembly elections, and at the time, I felt entirely bored and occasionally annoyed with the process which included being bombarded with emails and posters across campus. My thought process was simple: The Student Assembly, in my view, was an institution with no real power. I saw it as a playground for students who wanted to pad their resume and play mock government. Why would I engage in such a system? Why should I even care about it?

As my first semester at Cornell came to a close, I came to the same realization that many others across campus felt — that my original perception was the furthest thing from the truth. The Student Assembly holds real political power at the University level, and as someone who has a passion for shared governance and student empowerment, I felt that I had to get involved to make a change to this inaccurate and harmful assumption.

The truth is this: The Student Assembly wields tangible authority — the power to appropriate hundreds upon thousands of dollars in funding — and it has the potential to be your vessel in expressing your opinions on campus, but until we get most students to vote, the Assembly will not be representative of the student body. The Assembly most certainly will not work in the way it was intended with current turnout rates, and it can not be your voice if you don’t speak up. 

As I previously stated, roughly 85 percent of students at Cornell last semester — myself included — did not vote. If we want to build an Assembly that is representative of the student body, we have to step up and cast our ballots. We have to pay attention throughout the process. We have to start to care again. If we don’t, the Assembly will be just as disengaged as we are.

The voting period will begin on April 15. You can vote by finding the email in your inbox from Opavote, scrolling to the bottom, and clicking the button to fill out your ballot. I encourage each of you to do your research and fill out the form for the candidates who you feel best represent your views.

— Luke Thomas ’27

Luke Thomas ’27 is a first year student in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He is currently the Director of Elections on the Student Assembly and the Chairman of the Student Assembly’s Elections Committee.