Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Civic engagement must start locally

Voting is everything in America. It’s the foundation of our democracy and, for most people, the pinnacle of civic involvement.

Presidential election years are unique because they have a way of igniting supporters from both ends of the political spectrum, especially young voters. Midterm elections—or elections held around halfway through the executive term—are just as, if not more, important than presidential ones.

The 2014 midterm elections saw the lowest voter turnout from 18- to 29-year-olds in 40 years. According to a report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, just under 20 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

The drop can be assigned to a number of factors. Chief among those is students’ frustration with American politics as a whole. Still, the growing attitude of apathy towards voting among millennials is troubling, especially since millennials are projected to replace baby boomers as the largest voting generation by 2020, according to The Atlantic.

That shift will come with the power to shape the scope of American politics for most of the foreseeable future, and even more importantly, the responsibility of being properly informed.

Of course it’s not realistic to expect every person of voting age to be passionate about politics all the time, but students need to understand that their vote does matter and not just on the national scale.

The student government at UW Oshkosh, the Oshkosh Student Association, holds elections for representatives who, according to the OSA website, “work collectively toward ensuring a prosperous collegiate experience for each student by representing, safeguarding and promoting the student’s interests and rights throughout the pursuit of knowledge.”

Only 232 students voted in the 2015 OSA elections, which is less than two percent of the University’s entire student body. The OSA elections commissioner attributed the low numbers to lack of student knowledge about the elections and lack of choices for candidates.

OSA manages the distribution of about $9 million worth of segregated fees and its senate is in charge of approving all new student organizations so there’s no denying the importance of the executive and legislative positions on campus.

There needs to be an effort to better publicize exactly what OSA does, how it affects students and what members of the campus community can do to get involved. In turn, students need to be more adamant in their efforts to inform themselves about governmental happenings, both national and local.

Americans are privileged because our political system was set up with a system of checks and balances so that it doesn’t run through one person. But that means if students want “a political revolution is coming” or “make America great again” to be more than campaign slogans, they have to actually vote. A change in the way students approach elections can start right here, at UWO.

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