This semester, the largest push from the SGA is voter registration: getting 1870 voters registered in Hoboken.
I applaud the SGA for this initiative. Getting students active and involved is a great way to make the campus better for everyone. Even if it does not directly affect students on campus, registering to vote is a great first step. Stevens is part of the greater Hoboken community, and we should embrace that. However, Hoboken and Stevens are not the only communities that students are part of; students are also part of their home community. The mayoral election is not the most important thing in the world.
Understandably, the SGA works with the Office of Student Life on many issues — including voter registration. However, it seems that the Office of Student Life is the dominating figure in this argument. The SGA is taking a more “laid-back” and passive approach, along the lines of “Hey, you should register to vote in Hoboken, but if you have a reason not to, that’s cool too.” The SGA is looking out for students’ interests and rights with this approach in a way that is very accepting of all students and their values. In contrast, the Office of Student Life has been more direct and aggressive. The Office of Student Life has implied, “Hey, you have to register to vote here in Hoboken. Only Hoboken.” There are no exceptions to the rule, which is unacceptable.
Obviously, most “prideful” Stevens students want the campus to succeed and grow, and voting for the “right” candidate will help that cause – but there is no need to “aggressively” force that onto the Stevens student population. Change should come out of a desire from the student body, not an “authoritarian” figure forcing it upon them. Respect a student’s decision not to vote in a certain region and do not pressure them to do so. People don’t vote to benefit you; people vote to have a voice within their community.
Someone not voting does not impede on anyone’s rights and privileges. It is an important right, but it is not mandatory. A non-voter should not be ostracized for not voting — especially not for not voting in the “right community” for you. Vote in the community you feel most attached to, not one that will “benefit” more.