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Don’t Ignore ASUCI’s Power to Make Change

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Update: 5/3/2023 at 8:45 p.m. The portion regarding the 2021 voting turnout has been edited for clarity.

Another yearly round of elections for the Associated Students of the University of California in Irvine (ASUCI) ended on April 21. The voter turnout of 4.2% for both the undergraduate and graduates surpassed last year’s previous record low in UCI history. 

In 2021, the voting turnout was the lowest in UCI history at the time at less than 7.5%. The ASUCI Elections Commissioner during that year, Randy Yan, explained that it was more than just the coronavirus pandemic that decreased the votes. 

“This hasn’t been just a one year thing, this has been building up the past few years leading up to this point where we are combined with the pandemic and more than half the school not really knowing what ASUCI is,” Yan explained to the New University. 

He also remarked that it’s difficult to encourage electoral participation from first years who haven’t fully experienced ASUCI’s impact on campus.

After walking past ASUCI members on Ring Road and seeing them plead for students to vote, this year unfortunately yielded similar results. 

UCI has a large student body, and it’s known for being a commuter school, so it’s understandable that most students may feel that voting for strangers they know nothing about may not be useful.  However, students who don’t vote are ignoring their power to decide who is best suited to address the student body’s concerns and represent them to school administration.

There are a wide range of responsibilities that ASUCI oversees. Besides providing resources and organizing commercial activities, the government represents UCI students in administrative decisions. 

The ASUCI President is responsible for relaying student concerns and advocacy to campus leadership, making them the voice of the students. The ASUCI Senate also holds a lot of power — it is composed of students who are chosen to represent each academic school as well as international students, first-year students and transfer students. 

There are many other branches and positions in ASUCI, and each representative has the unique opportunity to speak directly to administrative staff. By being connected with ASUCI members and voicing personal concerns about the university, students can indirectly bring their views to school administration. 

It’s crucial to vote for the right person, which can be a daunting task. Some candidates expressed clear intentions regarding what they wanted to accomplish for UCI students in their term, while other statements were lackluster. 

Candidates’ statements are difficult to find and it’s exhausting to do research on every candidate. The statements I did find were misleading and not informative enough for me to decide who I believed would be the best for each position. 

Within the r/UCI community, users posted about the college’s conservative Republicans trying to get on the ASUCI board under the title “Empowered Anteaters.” In the descriptions of the members with that title, there was no mention of their political affiliation or involvement in any conservative organizations at UCI. Voters who were not aware of that post could have chosen someone completely unaligned with their beliefs and goals for UCI. This inconsistency highlights why voting is so important, as supporters from those conservative organizations could have garnered votes for their favored members while the rest of the student body ignored the person with the potential to play a pivotal role in their everyday lives. 

ASUCI has the power to advocate for students, and UCI students should utilize its influence more often. When the graduate workers’ strike was happening during the fall quarter, ASUCI wrote letters of request of action to the school, urging them to support their TAs and school workers and meet their demands. 

It’s evident that ASUCI is structured to support everyone on campus and ensure that their voices are heard. They give any student or community at UCI a chance to impact real change made by the school administration. Reaching out to ASUCI is the first pivotal step to make that change. 

For my fellow first-year students, even if you didn’t vote in this year’s ASUCI election or just found out about their presence, I hope you’ll vote in the future and become educated on our student government going forward. 

It may seem unnecessary or unreasonable to think about ASUCI in the midst of a busy and stressful college life; however, supporting our student government members and ensuring that ASUCI administration hears our voices will benefit everyone in the long run. 

Skylar Paxton is an Opinion Staff Writer. She can be reached at paxtons@uci.edu.