COMMENTARY: Don’t want to be American ‘idiotes’


I want to put the apathetic non-voters under the microscope.

Every time you scoff at the idea of voting, just remember that your apathy is the friend of the very politicians you seek to spite. While it may seem that the political machine holds the reigns, the reality of the situation is people have the power and the government does not.

While this opens the door to a plethora of political theory debates, I'm instead focusing on the most common misconceptions of the average voter. Ask anyone about the electoral college, voter or non-voter: the answers may differ but the unease and discomfort in speech are the same.

Why is this? Well, most people view the electoral college as a massive institution that operates in secrecy with total autonomy, like some board room of evil super villains deciding the fate of this nation — the facts are far less glamorous. This group of 538 electors is bound to vote with the conscious of their constituents. In the history of the electoral process, there have only been 157 “faithless electors,” or in other words electors that vote against their party. The electoral college is voted for as you vote for the president. While you select the presidential candidate you wish to win, you are actually selecting the electors that represent them, meaning that your vote for president directly affects which elector wins and which candidate receives a vote toward the necessary 270.

With all of this in mind, remember that if you don't vote, this is all for naught and the system fails. No matter who you support in this election cycle ... VOTE.

In fact the word “idiot” is derived from the Greek word “idiōtēs,” literally meaning someone who acts in a counterproductive self-defeating manner.

If you don't vote, you are an “idiōtēs.”

I bring up the Electoral College in order to set the stage for a larger irony.

It’s ironic that many of the students at Rutgers get heated when speaking about the Electoral College, when they should be just as, if not more, heated when talking about their own college.

While we brandish our title as “Revolutionary for 250 years,” the truth is that we are far from it. In fact, the doctrines that facilitate the structuring of our school are literally called the “Act of 1956.” People! That is 60 years and change (8 months) right there. Or, more accurately, 60 years and no change.

The Act of 1956 establishes the Board of Governors, which, for those of you that do not know, is the group of 15 voting members, and four nonvoting members, that shape everything at this school from tuition increases to resource allocation.

So you may be thinking, “hmm, 15 members all deciding how our tuition is spent? Some of them must be students or at least faculty members.” Ha, good one. The fact of the matter is that the four non-voting individuals are the two faculty members, one student member and finally, the president himself. Keep in mind that those two faculty members and one student are appointed by the Rutgers Senate, meaning the student body has a say in who these people are. While the other 15 members are appointed by both the governor of New Jersey and the Board of Trustees leaving, the students powerless.

If you take a few steps back, this ugly picture really starts to take shape. At its core, our University operates as a non-representative government. Even worse: we’re all paying for it. This is literally taxation without representation … “#revolutionary."

While I in no way mean to belittle the efforts of RUSA in its campaign to get just one voting student on the Board of Governors, I can’t help but notice how futile it would be. The Board of Governors often vote unanimously, and only a majority is needed to pass an agenda, so one dissenting student can’t stop 15 affirming votes, making this one student symbolic at best.

Okay, well now that you know the problem, do you want to know the solution?

Well, the idea of shared governance is in no way new.

Shared governance is the concept, that when voting on matters that would affect students and faculty alike, the people voting should be students and faculty — essentially, every matter that the Board of Governors deals with.

While I as a student am incredibly frustrated by my lack of a say in Rutgers politics, I can only imagine the frustration, if not rage, of the faculty. However, I’m glad the faculty members are angry. In fact I hope they’re pissed. I hope they're really pissed.

While no one should discount the efforts of student-run organizations, it is the faculty that have the real potential to change this school.

As Nobel Laureate and former President of Columbia University, Professor Isidore Rabi said, “Excuse me sir, but the faculty are not employees of the university. The faculty are the university.”

The current state of Rutgers makes an “idiōtēs” out of all of us.

Evan Klein is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in philosophy.

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