Student election season is now well under way. Throughout Monash campus, MUSA candidates are desperately trying to get students to take a few minutes break from revision to tick a few boxes to vote for the new MUSA representatives. It sounds fairly simple, doesn’t it? But how many of us are really aware of the upcoming election? How many of us actually take time to exercise our voting rights? So, I decided to go around campus and get some responses from our fellow mates.
“Huh?” election is around the corner? What election?” “Ehh I thought Pakatan already won. What more election?”. These were some of the responses I received. Not too pleasant, were they?
I found that a great number of students remained ignorant, or more often indifferent about the upcoming election. I was keen to know why the apathetic feeling towards Monash student election.
Many felt that engaging in student politics and fighting for social issues to make the university a better place is a lost cause. While others feel that getting their money’s worth out of their tuition fee is more important than participating in debates or missing lectures to occupy a part of campus. Many unanimously agreed that there are flaws in the university political system. But those who held an optimistic view were keen to see the changes that the members and officers of MUSA will bring to the table. Whereas those who were apathetic, mainly believed that no matter what they do, all their efforts will be fruitless.
When you look at the turnout for student elections, you can’t help but to wonder: Are people not voting because the system doesn’t represent them or purely because they are not interested in student politics at all, even when it directly affects them. Speaking to a couple of students, some were right in identifying apathy towards politics in the younger population. But with them, even when issues directly affect them, many students just do not care. Period.
I believe that everyone has something that gets their blood boiling, whether it may be sexism, social exclusion, mental health, university debt. But very few students use politics as an avenue to tackle issues and get their point across. It is sad to see students choosing to distance themselves from anything even remotely political. University political conversations can and should happen in the classroom, cafeteria, common areas, clubs, centres, and more. Discussions around the elections can increase student knowledge of university affairs, it can lessen their generalized mistrust and apathy towards university political life.
Part of growing up, everyone should start speaking up for what they believe in, and there is no better place than university itself. There are endless opportunities to get involved and get your opinions out there, such as question-and-answer sessions for the MUSA candidates or public debates on national issues. You don’t need to be an aspiring MP or politics student to attend, and you could leave having learnt a lot.
I implore all students, at some point in your student life, to go to an event, debate or protest, and I can guarantee it will get you thinking about politics, be it on a university level or national level. Whether you agree or disagree, you’re a step closer to getting your voice heard.
Article by Ashreka Kalaichelvan
Photos by Mahrukh Aziz