Senate Referendum Does Not Meet Its Quota
The recent Student Senate referendum has hit a stumbling block this semester. The quota of 50 percent participation has yet to be met, even though the prescribed one-week voting window has closed. This semester is the second in a row that the senate has polled the student body.
The referendum is supposed to be a mechanism for gauging student support for various Senate proposals and for gaining an understanding about the student opinion on timely issues. If students don’t vote, this goal isn’t achieved.
As of Dec. 14 at 4:50 p.m., 1054 people had voted online, not including an unknown but presumably small number of people who voted by paper ballot. The quota of 1432 was expected to be reached one week after the referendum opened on Dec. 6 at 6 a.m.
Senators have attributed the cause of the delay in reaching quota to several factors. For instance, the method of distribution has undergone a major change from the last referendum.
“We used to use Survey Monkey [a program that e-mails people again if they haven’t voted], but it got spam filtered,” said College junior senator Ezra Temko.
Also, the lack of controversy this semester, which several senators agreed to be the best advertising for the referendum, was not working on the side of Senate.
“This semester, nothing was exciting,” said College senior senator Marshall Duer-Balkind, “which probably means not as controversial.”
Another possible reason, suggested by College junior senator Matt Adler, had to do with the document itself.
“It’s 15 pages,” said Adler. “It’s longer than the last one. You have to spend a lot of time on the issues, and Oberlin students are busy.”
This sentiment was echoed by Elyse Underhill, a first-year in the Conservatory. She didn’t vote because she “was in the middle of a big composition assignment, and I didn’t feel I had time to research the issues.”
However, College senior Adam Rosenblatt had a different view. When asked why he voted, he said, “Because it takes 15 seconds.”
Associate Dean of Community Life Shozo Kawaguchi, advisor to Senate, was puzzled over the holdup in reaching quota.
“I don’t see anything peculiar this time,” he said, “The timing has been pretty similar.
“If this time it doesn’t reach quota, it would be good to ask students why they did not vote,” Kawaguchi added. “That would be my advice to the senate.”
In the end, Temko attributes the slack participation to miscommunication.
“The main reason students don’t vote,” he said, “is [that] they don’t feel connected to College politics.”
This isn’t true across the board, however, especially where ballot issues directly relate to students’ lives. Some issues inspire passionate opinions in the student body.
“There was a question about whether the Con should be open later,” said Conservatory senior Zoë Ley. “And someday there will be another cellist like me who does not like to go to sleep and wake up early. Mudd should be open late, too, but with the Con, you can’t practice in your room.”
The polls will remain open for an unspecified amount of time, and the senate
encourages any student who has not yet voted to go and cast his or her ballot.