Participation is key in upcoming SBO elections

It’s that time of year when attention goes from the hardwood to home plate, from slipping on ice to sloshing through puddles and from blasting the heat in below-zero temperatures to wondering when the air conditioning is going to be turned on in the dorms.

At Bradley, spring also means Student Body Officer (SBO) elections are on tap. (Yes, Bradley has student body officers.)

SBO elections are slated for April 7 and 8, as cited by the Student Senate bylaws stating elections “shall be held the first consecutive Monday and Tuesday in April.”

As evident by turnout numbers in years past, participating in SBO elections are a low priority for many students. Whether it is general apathy toward, a lack of knowledge about or a dissatisfaction with the election and its candidates, only a little more than 800 students turned out last year to vote in the first elections.

That’s less than 20 percent of the student body.

When a run-off election was forced last year, due to the Student Senate constitutional requirement for a candidate to win a simple majority of the votes cast, fewer than 600 students voted.

Bradley students are known for getting involved, well, at least to the extent of getting one’s name on campus organization email lists. However, the election of SBOs, in and of itself, does not have an email list, so actual involvement is encouraged.

Whether involvement means being as ambitious as getting your name on the ballot or merely marking one on April 7 or 8, SBO elections are only as successful as the student body makes them.

There are few, if any, organizations at Bradley that have the potential to impact the general student population more so than Student Senate. They directly interact with top administrators and pass resolutions that go on to the University Senate.

One can argue whether the organization has lived up to such potential both this academic year and in years past, but this is not a commentary on the current SBOs and the job they have done.

This is commentary about ourselves.

We get what we vote for (or don’t).

The generalization is that when most college students hear the word election or politics, they “go far,” far, far away.

Now, there’s no Ph.D. behind my name, and I wasn’t the creative one to think up the “go far, go Bradley” mantra, but with near certainty, it can be said that far, far away from civic involvement is not the aim of such a mantra.

In a country where less than 60 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential election, perhaps expecting college students to log onto their laptops or phones and take a few seconds to fill out a ballot is too much.

It shouldn’t be.

From the meal plan to the mascot, academics to athletics and bubblers to beer, Student Senate has the potential to greatly affect the student body.

Involvement, be that in the form of running or just voting, in the SBO elections is essential to the vitality of Student Senate and, in turn, the student body.