Cal Poly Student Life and Leadership coordinator Jesse Torrey loves to vote. She said it creates American patriotism that is visible in the results of both national and local elections.
But it is unfortunate, she said, students do not share her feelings. Though she sees many students come into her office that care deeply about important issues, she said she does not think they are representative of most people on campus.
“In general, it follows the rest of the population,” Torrey said about student apathy. “I don’t see a big difference between college-age and the rest of the population.”
According to a Harvard Institute of Politics poll, only 58 percent of students said they “definitely” plan to vote in 2012. That number is down from 70 percent in 2008, when presidential candidate Barack Obama inspired millions to come to the polls and support him in his successful campaign.
And with another round of presidential elections coming up this November, business administration sophomore Drew Meulman said students have more important things on their mind than the current Republican primaries.
“I don’t think college students really care all that much about voting,” Meulman said. “They care more about other things, not just studies, more just having a good time.”
Though that may sound like a typical bout of student-voter apathy that seems to be prevalent on campuses nationwide, Meulman said there is a legitimate reason he has not yet even registered to vote.
“At this point in our life, we can finally be free and figure out who you are and what you believe in,” he said. “And how can you know who you want to vote for before you have those questions answered?”
But electrical engineering junior Leonardo Frem offers a different reason why students care more about which textbook to buy than which candidate to vote for — a simple lack of time.
“We don’t know all that much because of all the time constraints,” Frem said. “It takes too much work to get all the information we need.”
But there may be hope for the politically inclined on campus. In a recent interview with CPTV, Associated Students, Inc. presidential candidate Katie Morrow said the on-campus voter turnout at Cal Poly is huge compared to other universities. More than 35 percent of students participated in the online polls last year, and Morrow hopes for even more to vote this year.