After a decrease in election participation, student government aims to bolster votes with events like the April 9 “Meet the Candidates Bash,” where students met candidates running for senatorial elections and entered a raffle for two tickets to Disneyland.
“Spring senate elections have significantly reduced in participation,” said Wil Harris, student government’s director of elections.
About 22.5 percent of the student body voted in this year’s student government president and vice president election, which is 3.5 percent lower than last year’s election.
“I’m honestly here to try to win some Disneyland tickets,” said Logan Stevens, a junior news and documentary major and one of the about 120 students in attendance.
This is not the first time student government has used incentives and prizes to engage students. In the March presidential election, student government tried to encourage voter participation with a raffle prize of two Billie Eilish concert tickets.
“Without these incentives, people are too busy to even come out to these events,” said Max Chang, student government’s director of public relations. “We need to earn your engagement; we have to work hard to appeal to everybody who is busy.”
Student government has also focused on its social media platforms to get more access to students. Harris said the number of followers on student government’s Instagram went from 870 in August 2017 to 1,208 as of April 14, Harris said.
“Consumed in our own lives, (student government) is hard to prioritize, especially in our age, when you have work, school, social life and extracurricular activities,” said Jae Staten, a junior film production major.
Lack of education about student government is another contributing factor to low engagement, said Abby Tan, student government’s vice president-elect.
“A lot of students don’t know what student government does and don’t know why it’s important to be involved,” Tan said. “It’s good to know what’s going on at your school, especially when it has to do with policy changing.”
Anita Cheng, a sophomore psychology major who is running for senator of Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, said that low campus involvement can affect political participation on a larger scale.
“If people aren’t willing to vote in something so small, people are going to be less willing to vote in something big,” she said.