The reluctance was very evident among my classmates when representatives from the UST Comelec interrupted our class in order to invite us to vote. To make sure that we would go to the polling precinct, they took our ID cards as collaterals. The insurance was tantamount to coercion. But it seems it was the only way to fire up the enthusiasm of students during campus elections and make them vote.

Voter apathy is not new to UST. In 1996, the Central Student Council election was declared a failure for failing to meet the minimum number of votes; as a result special elections had to be held.

Many voters also feel that their individual votes hardly matter. They may try to cast conscientiously an intelligent vote only to be overrun by several votes that have been cast based on popularity or sheer caprice. In campus elections for example, many students cast their votes arbitrarily and even for the absurdist reasons, such as picking out the candidate with the funniest sounding name or the prettiest, or the most curious face.

But voter apathy also has something to do with voter fatigue. Or is it democratic fatigue? It seems that people in general shy away from elections because they’re tired of the same politicians who make grandiose promises during campaigns only to break them the minute they step into office.

Obviously something must be done about the voter apathy on campus. Part of the problem is that students aren’t even aware an election is happening because of the short campaign period. It is as if the UST administration and the incumbent student government don’t really want at all the students to vote, much more to think about campus politics and campus issues. They seem to do their job with the utmost drudgery. And that drudgery, no wonder, is rewarded by student apathy.

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After all is said and done, we still need to hold an election; suffrage is as necessary as death and taxes. The challenge is to rouse interest about the election.

But ultimately what is needed is to rouse interest about the improvability of democracy through elections. By this, we won’t have to settle for student life that is “just fine.”

This is a challege for the Thomasian community. Democracy should be given a deeper discourse, a more positive appreciation, unless students will be voting just to get their ID cards back.


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