I read the latest opinion in your pages and could only shake my head in disbelief. The article “Who’s running our student government?” is a case study of our problem not just at Lane, but in this country when it comes to civic engagement.
Even putting aside the obvious misunderstanding of where the money for our student government comes from, which is from the Student Activity Fee and not Dylan’s tuition as he thinks, there seems to me a problem to this notion that the elections have low voter turnout due to a lack of advertising in some way. If you walked on the Lane main campus anywhere during the two plus weeks before the election began you would have had to actively disengage with your surroundings not to see the posters, lawn signs and chalk campaigns that were all over the place. Add to that the mass emails that even I as a student got, the Titan Times announcements that linked to orgsync, and oh look at that, a four-page, full-color advert about the election in the very paper this opinion was written in. How could you go through a single day at Lane and not see those things? How could you not have seen the flyers even earlier about how to get your name on the ballot and become a part of the student government?
This brings us to the issue which I see as a real problem. We have a student population that is so disengaged civically that they come to campus, go to their classes and keep their heads down without apparently taking in the community around them. They bury their heads in their phones and social media has become to them the replacement for the civic engagement that is so desperately needed not just here, but everywhere you live. We’ve lost the community in our college and society in general because it’s been supplanted by false communities online.
So who’s to blame for the low voter turnouts, for the disengaged community members we call students? Who should we point to as the culprit in having completely un-challenged candidates? Who can we say is at fault for the lack of depth or quality in our candidates, and then in the end our elected representatives? I say that would be you, the student reading this who didn’t look up from your phone long enough to read the lawn signs. It’s you, the columnist who did the same, never seeming to seek out information about how student government works here at Lane because you haven’t bothered to take the time to be an actual member of the community.
There are many problems with the student government here at Lane in my opinion which I see as troubling. None of this about the ASLCC is troubling just because the school has a budget gap to try to work through. That is an entirely separate issue to how our student government works. Our student government has representatives on several college councils where they give input on things like the budget that we see being pushed by the administration now. They sit in on board meetings and give reports there as well. The problem is that the link that’s supposed to connect them with the students they represent has been broken by students who are disengaged. Students seem to be more interested in what’s trending on YouTube today —which is likely where the idea to have a YouTube banner advert came from, as where the mind goes — than what’s happening with the community they are a part, and yet not a part of.
Writing a damning indictment of the current student government when you didn’t even know there was an election due to the seemingly self-imposed blinders of civic disengagement you are wearing only shows where the problem actually is. I would encourage anyone reading this to stop lurking, remove the blinders and start participating in this community. Don’t know how? Ask your Student Government Representative for ideas. You’ll find their contact info at https://www.lanecc.edu/aslcc