School: A Political Microcosm
Some lessons learned from the recent Student Government elections here at UF:
1) Whoever has the most money usually wins. Now, this might be because more money is indicative of more support, it might be because more money buys more campaign ads/volunteers/etc., it might be because people who have the ability to raise money also look good when they're gladhandling the populace - I'm not a poli-sci major.
The money disparity was apparent in this campaign - the Gator Party (which was, let's face it, the party of all the fraternities and so garnered instant support and funds) has a freaking sponsored link to their website in Google. They also completely crushed the Pants Party.
2) Voter apathy starts off early. This is a college, and, as you might expect, a lot of the students are politically minded, but the turnout for this year's election was dismal. I bet more people eat Hare Krishna lunch on the Plaza of the Americas on an average week than voted in the stupid SG election. This is weird, since voting takes about 5 minutes, polling locations are literally everywhere, and you don't even need to register in advance to vote (you just need your UF student ID). Even when voting takes less effort than walking to a bathroom, people won't be motivated to do it in most cases.
3) Corruption starts off early, too. I'm not an anti-frat guy; the fraternities do lots of good things here on campus (like their work on Dance Marathon). But it's an open secret that frats often pressure their members to vote a certain way (hmm, remind you of something?). The Pants Party got into trouble by distributing "I Voted" stickers to people passing by, in an attempt to weaken the frats' hold on their members (the rumor is that the frats check for "I Voted" stickers in order to make their members vote, whether they want to or not). The Gator Party complained all the way to the campus Supreme Court - and eventually, the administration penalized the Pants Party since the stickers were considered campaign materials.