Voter turnout remains weak

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By Yvonne England

By Yvonne England

Once again, another election passed at Riverside Community College without even a glance from the students.

The percentage of student voters for the student trustee election decreased from last year’s 1.8 percent even with the convenience of online voting.

This year only 264 students out of RCC’s about 31,000 participated in the election. This means less than 1 percent of the student population voted.

The candidate who won, if any knew who the candidates were, was Nick Carbone with 80 percent of the votes. In a national election this would be correctly construed as a mandate from the people, but in a student election where less than 1 percent of the population voted, this cannot be defined as a true calling.

Carbone responded to the low turnout by saying, “Turnout is generally low, especially with the introduction of a new voting system.” Doug Graham, the coordinator of Student Activities for the Riverside Campus, supported this analysis by also emphasizing that this is the first year voting was done online.

The online voting system that RCC attempted to use is supported by WebAdvisor. Graham said that one major reason for introducing this new system was for students to gain “familiarity with utilizing WebAdvisor.” The goal was to inform students of the advantages of this online program.

For students who have never used WebAdvisor, and that is 65 percent of students at RCC, you can access grades online, make payments, purchase parking permits, search for classes, register for classes, and drop classes all online.

On the election days the sight of voters was scarce around the three campuses. With 224 votes Riverside Campus had the majority. Out of those votes 184 went to Carbone. Moreno Valley had 33 votes, 22 of which went to Carbone. Coming in last, Norco participated with only seven votes, all of which went to Carbone.

One could suspect that the low turnout was the result of poor campaigning, but there were flyers for both the candidates available around campus. Carbone also participated in 50 class presentations. So why were the participants in this election so few?

Student Mike Garcia said that he doesn’t know too much about the activities on campus. He is not the only one given the low voter turnout.

Student Maria Hernandez said, “I’m not interested in the events at RCC. I’m just here so that I can transfer to a university.”

This may be the case for many students at RCC, but a student trustee’s job is to represent the students and that is what Carbone plans to do. He said his plans are to follow up on his campaign promises.

For those who forgot, or maybe never knew, Carbone plans to lobby against the increase of student fees, to receive the equalization payments that are owed to RCC as well as other community colleges, to expand the nursing and science programs and follow up on the promised hiring of 55 new professors for the college.

Many students on campus do not realize the importance of a student trustee. When discussing the issue, Joseph McClair humorously said, “Do I need to trust in the student trustee?”

This person’s job is to be the voice of all students and to address student needs. The student trustee is a representative at all Board of Trustee meetings which makes major decisions related to the college.

The election for student president and vice president is an upcoming event on campus. Graham reviewed the packets for each candidate which needed to be in by March 21. Candidates for this position will be chosen by April 7.

Graham said the role of a student president on campus is to direct the executive cabinet, board of commissioners, student activities, clubs and organizations, as well as be the multi-cultural advisor. The student president takes part in deciding where the Associated Students of Riverside Community College’s budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars goes.

The role of a student vice president is to be the chief advisor to the president, as well as to direct all of their meetings. Voting for this election will take place on April 26, 27, and 28 with the results on April 29.

In the last student presidential election only 834 students participated. Due to the fact that a candidate wanted a nick name printed on the ballot for identification purposes among the voters there was a re-vote. During the re-vote only 544 students voted. That is a full percent decrease in voter turnout in only a few days.

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