The Political Science Club recently set up a booth to register Radford University students to vote in the community. At first, the idea of eliminating the hassle of getting registered for extremely busy college students sounds great, but then I got to thinking, should we be allowed to vote here?
Most of us aren’t from around here. We’re just living here for about four years to get our higher education with the hopes of leaving and starting a life somewhere else. Why should we vote for a community we aren’t committed to? I’m totally for our age group to get out there, vote and make a difference, but is it fair for us to do it here?
It would be the equivalent of a drive-by vote. We would come out in droves to potentially change their policies and leaders, then leave. Consider this: a senior at RU voting for a new mayor, probably without necessarily being educated on their policies and goals for the Radford community, and then graduating. If that student leaves, then the town is left with the mayor the student voted in without the student to reap the rewards (or deal with the consequences).
I’m not saying one person’s vote matters or that the students would even be that keen to vote, but it’s a small enough town for one vote to make a difference. This goes for most college towns–a town that relies on the university for jobs and opportunities, but not a town where most students would stay.
Think along the lines of Farmville, Va., or Mount Vernon, Iowa, the towns that hold Longwood University and Cornell College. I would go out on a limb and say these towns’ populations are mostly students and professors. If a town ordinance changed for each student’s coming and going, the policies would change constantly.
This isn’t necessarily good for the non-students and non-faculty. They are there long enough to know how things work and the context in which things should be done. They are here to deal with the bad mayor or horrible legislation the students might have thought was a great idea.
If you haven’t noticed, college students can be quite selfish when it comes to their college towns. We know we’re responsible for the economy and activities in the towns, and we take advantage of it. Take the police force for example. We get so angry when drunk in publics and DUIs are typical for a weekend.
After that, the cops get a bad reputation for being unfair and too restrictive. But do we think about the people who have to deal with us all the time? I’m sure after years of living in a college town, the residents get quite annoyed with the drunken antics of college students.
And now, let’s go a step further. We vote to ensure our good time is preserved. Now, the year-round residents have to deal with year after year of trying to keep the peace in the town. And if we do vote at school, we need to make an educated decision. Small-town elections are not a time to “eeny, meeny, miny moe” that ballot.