Editorial: Your money, your voice

By Editorial Board

Democracy 101 is coming to campus this Tuesday and Wednesday with the Student Association‘s Senate elections.

As an NIU student, you will have the opportunity to choose which of your peers will represent you, your interests and your money. But if history is any indicator, about a thousand of you will come and vote.

Which is a shame, really.

Good, transparent government only works if there’s a public that will hold them unaccountable. It is impossible to do that when only several hundred people on a 20,000+ campus vote.

The lack of involvement might be due to a lack of knowledge, so here is the SA in a nutshell: it is the U.S. government scaled down to the size of the student body. The executive branch consists of the elected positions of president, vice president, treasurer and the student trustee, and their cabinet consists of a number of appointed directors. All of these positions (with the exception of the student trustee) are paid positions, too, with your money.

Filling in for Congress is the SA Senate, a unicameral body that 40 members of the student body have the pleasure in which to serve. They are not paid, but they do have the power to approve the budgets and supplemental funding requests to a variety of student groups on campus. So it’s really no surprise that there are winners and losers in each budget cycle because there are groups that will get a push for candidates onto the ballot, and who will then look out for only their group, not the student body-at-large.

Again, folks, it’s Democracy 101.

All of this could be avoided if the elections were more competitive, which would happen if more students voted. A lot of things could be avoided if students regularly attended the SA meetings and participated in the democratic process. Really, the only time people begin to care about the SA is when a group’s budget is involved, but by then, it’s already too late to get involved.

Involvement is key in keeping a government running efficiently and transparently. This is not to insinuate malicious intent on the part of the students involved with the SA, but sunshine makes everything better.

So do your part, student body. It’s your money. It’s your voice. Use it.