To Vote, or Not to Vote: Voter Apathy

Caroline Schell

Election Day seemed to come and go quite uneventfully in the lives of Washington and Lee students. Besides noticing the geofilter Snapchat offered last Tuesday, Nov. 3, many students were unaware that local elections were taking place throughout the country.

The only election that students seemed to know or care about was one for the local chief deputy sheriff position, which would hopefully end a series of noise ordinances issued to student-hosted parties for thousands of dollars in charges; coming to an average of over $3,500 in charges per fraternity per week. This local election occurs every four years.

Fred Sackfield, ‘16, expressed frustration at the large number of noise ordinances that have been issued.

“I think we’ve seen more noise violations given on windfall hill this semester than the last two or three years combined,” Sackfield said. “It’s really out of hand; the only solution I see at this point is to extend the noise ordinance in town for fraternity house parties.”

Many upperclassman men who live in these houses have received personal fines and court dates due to noise complaints.

The fact that Washington and Lee students are more aware of a local police chief election given the increased violations is both appropriate and disheartening.

Attending a small school, students feel their voices and concerns should be heard. Yet, many do not have the ability to actively vote in these local elections or feel they have any power.

On a national scale, where W&L students do have awareness of their efficacy, voter apathy amongst the student population continues to grow.

Over 95% of Washington and Lee students participate in Mock Convention by the time events start.  It would seem that between hundreds of student delegates, 50 state chairs, 4 regional chairs, and the heads of Mock Con, every student on campus would be knowledgeable of the current political election climate in the United States.

However, this too does not seem to be the case.  A first-year student thought Ben Carson was a singer when she was asked to go to his rally at Liberty College next week.

She was quoted saying, “I don’t really know if I like that artist, I don’t know if I know any of his songs.”

On both a local and national scale, Washington and Lee students have gone unaware of their potential participation in our nation’s democracy.

A Snapchat geofilter should not be the only source of one’s news, and yet it seems that students continue to get news exposure from their social media devices rather than traditional news formats, if they receive any news at all.

In a university that prides itself on active community members who have the power to change their worlds, it is concerning that W&L students continue to go uninformed.