Editorial: Students need to vote in order to be represented

Every semester, a portion of student fees are allotted to fund the UTSA Student Government Association (SGA), an organization that serves as the official advocate and voice of the student body. In the 2011-12 school year, this allotment of student fees culminated in an SGA budget of over $47,000 in order to support and advocate for the student voice.
Last year, the SGA elections saw a student voter turnout of only 1,302 students. Considering the university’s overall population, over 30,000, only 4.47 percent of the student body is actually represented through SGA.
When the system works, and students actually vote for their representative, the SGA has the power to voice students’ complaints.
But with so many students passionate about their experience at UTSA, why are we not seeing a larger voting turnout?
According to the SGA’s 2012-2016 Strategic Plans, the SGA’s top priorities are to improve Blackboard and Air Rowdy, to launch an on-campus farmer’s market, to expand the shuttle system, as well as to provide more dining options on campus.
Recently, SGA passed a resolution to decriminalize marijuana. In a true representative democracy, this would mean that the majority of UTSA students are in agreement about all of the previous issues. However, the voice of only those who voted, 4.47 percent, can be accounted for in this decision.
But what about the other 95.5 percent? The SGA represents them too, and fees to pay the SGA come from those students’ tuition as well. When such a small fraction of student support is accounted for in UTSA’s student government elections, SGA cannot be expected to accurately represent the voice of the student body. Participation is paramount in any functional democratic system, and as concerned UTSA students, our most effective tool in that participation lies firmly in the votes that we cast.
How can students expect their voice to be heard, if they are not asserting their influence in the voting booth?