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EDITORIAL: RUSA elections are important to student life, becoming engaged citizens

RUSA elections give us a chance to exercise our power at the University, we must use it in this week's elections

Students should remember that democracy can be instituted in everyday life. – Photo by Element5 Digital / Unsplash

This week, Rutgers students are going to be voting in this year’s elections for the Rutgers University Student Assembly. Elections are always important, regardless of where they happen or the community the candidates intend to represent. Yet, this year’s elections might feel a bit more pressing, as the current Assembly has dealt with multiple problems this past year that has sullied the organization's name.

It might seem as though voting for the Assembly is less salient than voting in local, state or federal elections, but the Assembly's elections are significant to our experiences at Rutgers: For us not to pay attention, for us not to vote in them, would be a ceding of our own power and autonomy as students.

Students need to ask themselves what the University is doing for them and what role they see the Assembly as playing in making their experience better. After asking those questions, students should vote for candidates they feel best represent their views and will enact policies that make their time at Rutgers better.

On the topic of candidates, it is worth thinking about why people run and what that signals to voters. It is reasonable to wonder why people would run for the Assembly after what has been a dizzying year of scandal after scandal.

The fact that so many candidates have decided to run for the Assembly, despite those scandals, is reassuring. We hope that whoever wins holds true on their promises and truly works to reform the Assembly.

In their recent debate, candidates from Our Scarlet Promise and The New Leaf Coalition expressed their views on important issues and introduced their candidates. All the candidates addressed crucial issues and made clear that they were committed to making the Assembly and the University as a whole more inclusive.

The Assembly remains central to student life and life at Rutgers generally. The Assembly, for example, played a part in the decision to purchase and implement the scooters that have become a key part of the Rutgers experience these past two years. By leading that effort, they decided on something for the University and its students.

Indeed, the Assembly allocates funds to clubs and organizations — they have immense power in deciding who gets money and how much money is managed.

That level of power, especially surrounding financial decisions, needs to be held accountable. Considering the controversies that have recently come out regarding the Assembly, there needs to generally be better transparency and checks. One way to do that is voting to ensure that we elect the best possible candidates.

In order to have better turnout, Rutgers could do a finer job at promoting the elections. On two fronts, the University should underscore the necessity of voting general while also reminding students of the Assembly's authority over our experience at Rutgers.

Stepping back from the Assembly's elections, voting is a sacred right and something we must always take advantage of. When we vote, we commit to the democratic process which is essential to cultivating an informed and active citizenry.

To that point, it seems as though voting habits are formed in childhood and adolescence. Being in college is a ripe time to further solidify those habits, extend them or even start them. When we vote from a young age, we know the importance of the vote, and we also know the power it gives us. Voting is empowering. If we recognize that sooner, we are more likely to vote throughout our adult life, in all elections.

Even if you are not as actively informed about the Assembly, by voting in the election you are not just signaling your commitment to Rutgers — you are also signaling your commitment to the idea of voting itself.

Voting is the bedrock of our society. To honor that and to show we are committed to the process of democracy, we must vote in this week’s election.

To vote in this week's election, follow this link.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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