Give Us a Reason to Vote

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    It’s time for BYUSA elections. And once again, it’s time to ask why students should participate. Unfortunately, we at The Daily Universe do not have an answer.

    Recent BYUSA presidents have not given students a reason to vote. Promises have gone unfulfilled, and no significant changes can be attributed to the student body’s representatives. There is no student-run radio station, like former president Dave Johnson promised. France Nielson made no great promises and no great progress. And student ratings still aren’t published, a cause current president Adam Larson has been working for. Though these presidents have undoubtedly worked hard at serving the university, they have given no reason why they should be elected by the student body.

    Of course, it should be understood that an organization like BYUSA has limited authority at a private university like BYU. The school is run by LDS church leaders and funded by the tithing of members. It is not a democracy.

    However, BYUSA leaders have the potential to be a catalyst for change. Just because the school is owned by the church does not mean it is perfect. Many policies, programs and procedures can and should be changed. We would like to see the next BYUSA president work for a greater say in decisions that will affect students’ lives and pocketbooks. If the student body elects a representative, that representative should be able to pull some weight.

    Furthermore, since it appears that the election tradition will continue, the current candidates should base their platforms less on campus entertainment and more on issues that will make significant improvements in students’ lives. BYU’s relationship with Provo and students’ involvement in Provo city should be improved, for example. Off-campus housing is an issue many students would like to see addressed. Parking is another. Students would probably feel a greater responsibility to vote if candidates talked more about substantial issues and less about fun activities.

    Last year, only 5,123 students voted in the BYUSA election. It will be interesting to see how many do so this year. At this point, there is no reason why they should become involved. If the candidates make an issue of what deserves to be made an issue, more students will probably become involved. If the winners work their way into the BYU bureaucracy and actively make the student voice heard through their term of service, more will vote next year. Then the BYUSA presidency will be worth an election.

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