It’s hard to step onto Sproul Plaza on a weekday and not immediately sense the uniquely quirky energy that has come to characterize the Cal campus. Student groups flyering between the trees, a capella groups serenading students by Sather Gate, the occasional protestor emphatically speaking on the Sproul steps – all of these are common features of the campus’ busiest and most visible entrance. But last week and this week, it’s been even busier, as campus election season has transformed the plaza.
The Associated Students of the University of California, or the ASUC for short, is an elected body of UC Berkeley students, who allocate funding for student groups, introduce and pass bills that affect the student body, and act as advocates for students at the university level and beyond. There are different parties, “meet-the-candidate” events, and an official voting period, from April 7-9, where students can vote online or in person at several campus locations.
From Monday, March 30 through Thursday, April 9, students who are running for office, alongside their friends and supporters, have been and will continue to campaign on Sproul Plaza, which entails holding signs with candidates names and numbers, coming up with clever slogans and chants, and walking fellow students to class to pitch candidates’ ideas and platforms.
This is the first time in my three years here at Cal that I have gotten involved with the ASUC elections process, as I’ve had the chance to help out one of my friends who is running out on Sproul. Before this opportunity, while I did see the overall value of holding these elections, and having all of this activity on Sproul, I was more reluctant to participate, or even stop to allow someone to detail a candidate’s platforms to me. I was pretty indifferent to the process, and groaned alongside many of my friends when we saw the first facebook profile picture change to a photo supporting a candidate.
But in helping out this year, I’ve realized that regardless of who I am campaigning for, regardless of who I and my peers ultimately vote for, the most important part of this whole process is that we do vote. We’re lucky to have such a great slate of candidates, who stretch across multiple parties and whose platforms and proposals promise to reach diverse and disparate campus groups, and we must exercise our opportunity to have a say in the future of our campus.
Sproul is probably never busier than when this sea of candidate faces and chorus of “vote for ___” fill the plaza. Let’s embrace this electric energy, and go out and vote for the shape we want the campus to take.