Elections Are Won By Those Who Show Up

BY PAUL GRIFFIN // NOV. 2, 2018 //

With midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, candidates’ get-out-the-vote operations are in full swing. The question, as it is every two years, is whether young voters will actually turn out at the polls.

It’s no secret that many young people choose not to vote. In the 2016 presidential election, only about 49 percent of millennials — those ages 18-35 that year — reported to have voted, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s about 20 percentage points less than the baby boomers (people ages 49-72), of which 69 percent voted in the election.

At Curry College, voter apathy is even worse. According to Student Government Association President Rachel O’Donnell, only about 25 percent of the student population voted in the latest SGA election. Students could vote through the Curry portal, meaning they didn’t even have to get out of bed to cast a ballot. “It seems to be a generational thing,” says O’Donnell.

Curry Psychology professor Eric Weiser says it’s understandable that many college students are slow to engage in politics.

“Young people, 19, 20, 21 who are in college, are worried about exams,” says Weiser. “They’re worried about papers, they’re worried about friends, what they’re gonna do with their lives. They’re not as worried about things that influences political attitudes like taxes.”

Weiser says he doesn’t see a lot of political engagement in his students, but reiterated that it was typical for college students to be less engaged than older voters. A study out of Tufts University in Medford, Mass., last year reported that voter turnout among college students in the 2016 election actually increased by 3 percentage points, to 48 percent, compared to the 2012 election, but that too is well below most categories of older eligible voters.

Professor Andrew Horn of the English Department believes that today’s students aren’t particularly engaged in politics because they don’t see how it connects with their lives.

“They feel as though they have nothing at stake,” says Horn, who remembers the feelings of impending doom when he was an undergraduate student during the Cold War. “We were all absolutely convinced there would be nuclear war between the United States and Russia, and that we were going to die.”

Of course, young people have plenty at stake in this midterm election. For example, a ballot referendum in Massachusetts asks voters to decide whether there should be strict limits on how many patients a nurse can care for at any one time. Voting “yes” would impose a patient cap, which would arguable require hospitals to hire many more nurses, while a “no” vote would maintain existing laws and rules.

“This is going to directly effect me when I graduate,” says Yasmina Resendes, a senior Nursing major at Curry. “I agree there should be a limit on how many patients a nurse should care for, but I don’t like the way this [referendum] is worded.”

“I think I’m more motivated to vote because Question 1 directly effects what I want to do for my job when I graduate,” says sophomore Nursing major Olivia Francis. “My nursing instructors have really been trying to inform us about how this would affect us, but they try to avoid pushing us one way or another.”

O’Donnell of the Student Government Association says it would be great if students could vote in state and federal elections on campus at Curry. “I think a lot more students would vote if it were more accessible,” she says.

Ultimately, though, voting participation comes down to engagement. If students don’t understand what’s at stake, for them personally or for others, they simply won’t put in the effort to cast a ballot.

Says Curry English Professor Karrie Szatek, “No matter the situation, you have to be able to bring it home.”

Campaigning for SGA Elections Start


The candidates are set and so are the election days.

Curry’s Student Government Association elections will run from Monday, Sept. 17 to Wednesday, Sept. 19, with students able to cast their votes online through the MyCurry portal. Voting closes at midnight on the 19th.

Freshman Christian Rodriguez is running for class vice president. // PHOTO BY KELSEY MARCHETTI

Students running for class officer positions or other slots will campaign in a variety of ways. Some said they would speak directly to their peers, while others plan to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to get their messages and promises out to Curry’s student body.

“Campaigning is important,” said current SGA President Corey Theodore. “You must get your name out there or you will not get voted for. Some keys to campaigning are making your name recognizable and spreading your message quickly. There is a limited amount of time to campaign, and efficiency is crucial.”

In most cases, however, there is little reason to actually campaign because students are running uncontested. Full elections were held last spring, but vacancies remained. Those running uncontested for open seats include:

  • Megan McGrath, Class of 2013, secretary
  • Katherine Doering, Class of 2014, vice president
  • Matt Kurz, Class of 2014, treasurer
  • Daniel Freeman, Class of 2014, secretary
  • Briana Smith, Class of 2015, treasurer
  • Andrew Marinaro, Class of 2015, class representative

The freshmen class is the only class that has students running for contested positions. Kalene Lombard and Jennifer Vaughan are both running for Class of 2016 president, while Kirsten Antonsen and Christian Rodriguez are running for vice president. The other two positions for the Class of 2016 are uncontested, with Jessica Kearney running for treasurer and Leigha Sweeney running for secretary.

Elected student representatives must attend all SGA meetings, held on Wednesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. SGA serves as the voice and advocates of the student body. Class representatives and class officers are supposed to bring forward the concerns of the student body, and the SGA works to discuss those concerns and work to solve them.

“Student government is supposed to be representing the students,” said Theodore. “If the students don’t vote, they may not have the best representation available.”