Why I could not bring myself to vote in the LUCC elections

Dave Broker

As president of the College
Democrats here at Lawrence and
as an avid worker in electoral politics,
it was a strange new experience
for me to abstain from voting
in an election – even if it was
only for the Lawrence University
Community Council.
To me, there is nothing greater
than democracy, and there is no
greater responsibility we have than
to submit our opinions via ballot.
Yet in this election I was torn
between two presidential candidates
– Andy King and Justin
Happ – and in the end I chose
“none of the above.”
That’s not to say I didn’t try.
I followed the candidates’ campaigns,
read their statements
and asked my friends who they
thought should win the election.
None of this brought me any closer
to reaching a conclusion. I just
wasn’t satisfied with my options.
The comedian Lewis Black once
described our two-party system,
saying the Democrats were a party
of no ideas and the Republicans
were a party of bad ideas. That’s
sort of how I felt about the LUCC
presidential race.
On the one hand you had King,
who – while an intelligent and
amicable person – seemed to
bring little to the table in the way
of new ideas. To me his campaign
message lacked a certain creative
drive that I feel is necessary of
an elected leader. In his campaign
statement last week he told us
about what he had done as a district
representative, not what he
planned to do as president. He
spoke nothing of change.
Happ, on the other hand, had
an exciting campaign that played
to student empowerment. “All of
your wildest dreams will come
true,” he claimed, making reference
to the movie “Napoleon
Dynamite.” He told us that, under
his leadership, LUCC would do
what we wanted it to do, rather
than what President Beck wants it
to do. Yet he touched on historical
examples that I was less than comfortable
with. He referred to the
campus center and new volleyball
court as examples of the students’
voices being heard.
Guess what? I never supported
the volleyball court. It’s seldom
used, it takes up a lot of space in
the quad, and – being right outside
my house – it allows people
to bring sand inside. To me there
are more costs than benefits to
this sand pit. Meanwhile, the campus
center – which I originally
supported – has crippled formal
group housing food budgets due
to new fees, has few of the things
I was hoping for – they decided
to add a second movie theater on
campus, rather than, say, a bowling
alley – and serves food that is
just as lousy as at Downer. To me
these are not things LUCC should
brag about.
Then again, what do they have
to brag about? As a fraternity
member and the leader of a student
organization, I have rarely
been pleased with LUCC decisions.
For nearly four years I have put
up with difficult bureaucracy and
nonsensical rules. Year after year
student organizations are given
less leeway with how they can
spend their money. Year after year
fraternities get shortchanged –
from recruitment expectations to
budget encroachments – making
it more and more difficult for fraternities
to survive. And year after
year LUCC puts forth increasingly
bad ideas, such as giving faculty
members a vote in LUCC elections.
In my view, LUCC belongs to the
students alone.
The question is, “which students?”
In my four years, it has
never been a student like me.
Perhaps many of you reading this
disagree with many of my concerns
and feel the leadership in
our student government has been
acceptable. If you feel how I feel,
however, it is time to realize that
LUCC is not being held accountable,
and the students it belongs
to are a small group that has come
to accept the culture and decision
making process of LUCC meetings.
In my opinion, we don’t need
any more LUCC officers who rose
through the ranks of student government
like they always do – we
need a group of entirely new leaders.
We did not see this from King
– with his status quo campaign
– or from Happ, who continued
to promote the ill achievements of
the past.
We did not see candidates from
outside the LUCC establishment,
with new and better ideas. Instead
we had a choice between “more of
the same” and “more of the same.”
That’s why I chose not to vote.