Ask a fifth-year

Evan Williams

Hi Evan,
Elections for LUCC president and vice-president were held this week, yet there was only one person running for each of these positions. What was the point of an election if only these two people were running, and are elections always this lackluster?
– Concerned tuition-payer of Lawrence

Great question, Concerned! I feel for this subject; I will depart from the normal sarcastic style of this column and speak seriously on the topic.
Is an election an election if you don’t have a choice? However silly it may sound, the truth is, it is very important that an election happen, especially since there are only two candidates.
Unfortunately, it seems that there was either not enough publicity concerning executive elections – I live in a house, so I did not see any – or that there was not enough interest on campus. Either way, in order for student government to hit the ground running in the spring, the candidates and current members must build enthusiasm for becoming a cabinet member or a representative.
I know J.R. Vanko personally and served with him on LUCC last year, and I know he will make a great president. However, it is unfortunate that more people did not run for office. Last year when I ran for vice-president – and lost – there were two presidential candidates and four vice-presidential. The elections sparked a lively debate about the role of student government and how to solve problems like slow Internet speeds.
The moment that sticks out the most to me in that election was in the candidates’ forum when a presidential candidate was asked what was Lawrence’s most pressing problem. He responded with one word: apathy.
At the time, I agreed with him. We were in the Pusey Room for a highly publicized candidates’ forum, and there were probably only 10 people in the room, including the six candidates. Former elections elicited low turnout, and we had a number of vacancies in the general council and on a number of standing committees.
Yet, we were proven wrong over the next days, as 1,028 ballets were cast. In addition, I’ve seen a number of petitions and Facebook groups about campus issues important to students. It seems that apathy is not the problem; knowing where to direct concern is.
I suspect that many students are not sure who to talk to about their issues, or – even if they know that LUCC can help – they are unsure who their representative is, how to get in contact with him or her and when a meeting is so they can redress grievances. Although LUCC cannot solve every problem, it is a great place to start to get answers and have your voice heard.
A vibrant election, despite the number of candidates, is needed to spark interest in LUCC, especially for those who wish to serve on the council. Although I had my problems with LUCC – at times it felt like a body that only deliberated its own rules – people who serve really make a difference on campus. It’s not just a club for aspiring politicians to practice the art of legislation and manipulation; it is the best way for we, the students, to make Lawrence better.
I encourage Lawrentians, especially underclassmen, to consider interviewing for a cabinet position this term or running for a seat next year. I also encourage Lawrence students to sit in on an LUCC general council meeting, speak if you have something to say to the body – yes you have the right to speak! – and inform others of the accessibility of LUCC.
I also encourage the candidates and current LUCC members to continue to elevate their efforts in spreading the word about what LUCC is doing and what it can do for our community. A well-publicized government is an open government, and an open government is a better government.