EDITORIAL: Abysmal ASI voter turnout won’t hold representatives accountable


In 2016, only 4,462 Sacramento State students (15.5 percent of the student body) voted in the Associated Students, Inc. elections. This was a small climb from 2015’s figure of 15.1 percent turnout. (Infographic by John Ferrannini)

State Hornet

Sacramento State students have the opportunity to elect new Associated Students, Inc. representatives on April 12 and 13.

But if the past two years are any indication, only 15 percent of the student body is actually going to vote.

As we reported earlier this week, the ASI Board of Directors — which operates as our student government — has an operating budget of almost $9 million.

Most of this money comes from students one way or another, with 42 percent coming directly from a $64 fee every Sac State student pays with tuition.

Yet it would be mistaken to argue that all Sac State students need to do to ensure that their money is being well spent is to take a few minutes to vote in ASI elections.

This year, after all, only three of the 14 seats up for election — ASI President, Director of Health and Human Services and Director of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies — have more than one candidate running. One of the seats, Director of Education, has no candidate at all.

ASI’s money doesn’t just go to campus programs, either.

According to ASI’s Operating Rules, the president has 60 percent of their “estimated cost of attendance” at Sac State paid for by a scholarship administered by the ASI Business Office.

Other ASI positions, such as executive vice president, vice president of finance, vice president of university affairs and vice president of academic affairs, have 50 percent of their college attendance cost paid for. Directors of the various colleges get 25 percent covered.

And if $8.9 million isn’t enough to assuage the collective apathy of our student body toward ASI, there is the issue of accountability.

We are the only people who can ensure that students are adequately represented and advocated for.

The administration’s two voting seats on our student government aren’t going to do it, after all.

A case in point: earlier this semester it was revealed that there were untested drinking fountains and other water sources on campus after some had tested positive for lead, that there wasn’t (as yet) a timeline to test them, and that the school wasn’t releasing the locations of the untested fountains.

The State Hornet reached out to ASI President Patrick Dorsey to see what our student representatives had to say about it.  

Dorsey used the opportunity to parrot the administration’s talking points, saying that the school was doing “everything it can” on lead contamination when clearly, it wasn’t.

If more students had been pressuring ASI to look out for their health and safety, maybe Dorsey’s answer and ASI’s response would’ve been a little more forceful.

Next week, we have the opportunity to vote. But going forward we have the opportunity to keep up the heat to make sure we’re getting our money’s worth.

And on a campus of over 30,000, let’s not leave any seats uncontested next time.