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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Mackayle Weedon
Mackayle Weedon
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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Students encouraged to make sustainable products with EcoReps
Amelia KashianFebruary 22, 2024

Lack of engagement in student politics

The election returns from the latest ASNMU election are out, and it’s not a pretty sight. This year marked the lowest voter turnout at NMU ever—or at least since 2002, when the organization
started putting records online.

A whole 208 students took the time to vote, just shy of 3 percent of the student body. While the fact that the office of president and vice president ran uncontested on the ballot may have been a large contributing factor, such a low turnout reveals a bigger, more disturbing problem.

We all know college is a big deal. It requires an enormous, bigger-than- ever investment in money and time (four to six years on average) and the politics that govern every school have a direct bearing on how pleasant or unpleasant your time in college will be. As college costs continue to grow, one would think students would care more about voting with so much at stake, but NMU isn’t alone in this problem.

Participation in student government elections has been declining for awhile, according to an article in USA Today. A simple Google search turns up numerous results from college newspapers across the country, from the Michigan Daily to the North Dakota Student. In national elections, young people in the 18-24 bracket perform poorly as well and have since the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1971. Roughly 13 percent turn out to vote.

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A 2014 article in “The Economist” attempted to explain why youth are so apathetic when it comes to voting, and it has nothing to do with laziness.

Millennials on average are better educated, volunteer more and use drugs and alcohol less than their older predecessors, which should in turn lead to higher turnout numbers, but still there’s a problem.

A more logical explanation, according to the article, is that millennials do not feel they have a stake in society to begin with. Ironically, if every millennial voted, that would not really be an issue, but simply getting youth to go out and vote is easier said than done. Saddled with student debt and competing for job opportunities, the average millennial is not going to own any property or have children in school, which is why many people turn out to vote in the first place.

Perhaps, as the vote continues to lose value nationally, it also loses value in the microcosm of  university politics too. For many, it just doesn’t matter whether you vote, and that idea is continually reinforced in the current presidential primary cycle, especially in Colorado where delegates were awarded without even considering the voice of the people. The solution has to come from the bottom up, and may depend a lot on what happens in this election cycle.

For universities, too, more emphasis should be placed on getting students involved in college government and on making the process of running for office an inviting and equitable process for all.

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