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.

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3 Comments

  1. Although I do think the headline is a little misleading and overgeneralizing, I don’t think it’s a problem any more that there are some students who don’t care about politics.

    Modern elections look like competitions between clueless and out of touch clowns. Voting doesn’t really fix the system. Sorry to be pessimistic, but thinking that casting a vote in November will automatically and instantaneously fix our economy and the state of the union is pretty much naive.

  2. Rawr, the article is not about voting for the sake of voting. This article is about the lack of interest among students (especially Cal Poly) concerning politics. It is not a debate about voting, it is a debate about people actually caring about the state of affairs to actually go beyond and research the facts.

    It is not a problem that there are *some* students who don’t care about politics, but it is a problem when the MAJORITY don’t care. The minority here at Poly are those who DO care.

    Not surprising– the surrounding town is fairly conservative and the majority of students come from middle to upper class families. They don’t care because they were raised to not have to care. That is not to say that those who do come from this kind of background don’t care– I mean how else would have Cal Poly Republicans gotten Ann Coulter? Speaking of which, the audience turnout to that event was evidently mostly older-generation in the surrounding region.

  3. As a conservative I don’t see the point since its a winner take all system in California and everyone and their 8 year old sister knows California is going Democratic. If you want to see me vote then we need to change the electoral college system.

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