Vote, vote, vote in today’s elections

If there were a year to vote in campus-wide elections, this is it.

There is a perception on campus that the Minnesota Student Association is largely ineffectual. Whatever the merits of this in the past, MSA’s current conduct, as well as circumstances today, makes this perception pragmatically unwise, if not false altogether.

In reality, MSA is relevant if for no other reason than they handle the allocation of student fees. MSA determines how and where students’ money is spent. Furthermore, the process of doing so has become a contentious issue on campus. The concerns posed by an on-campus stadium make MSA more relevant because MSA controls initial determinations of direct student contribution.

If MSA’s power over fees and its applicability to the stadium issue fails to justify the minimal time invested in voting (especially if you do it online), there is more where that came from.

Many of the candidates have very similar platforms. Still, it takes minimal research to be an informed voter and this is time well spent. Many candidates list campus safety, dining services reform and improved WebMail as important priorities. If you want more lighting on campus and some form of late-night transportation, vote. If you eat at University Dining Services and presumably dislike paying for meals you did not eat, vote. If you have to rewrite e-mails or constantly carbon-copy yourself because WebMail times out and lacks a “sent items” folder, vote.

Finally, whatever power MSA previously had with the administration or Legislature, it has more now. The last year has shown that MSA has a voice and is becoming a player in larger issues such as tuition and housing and in these areas students stand together. As such, MSA influence is likely to help the entire student population. And in terms of relations with outside groups, voting increases MSA’s influence because their authority grows as the voice of the students grows.

Perceptions aside, MSA is relevant. Through current circumstances and their own conduct, MSA has acquired more influence with outside groups, which only helps students. That influence increases with voter turnout. It is clearly in students’ interest to vote today in the campus-wide elections.