In “West Chester students reluctant to vote” [Quad, Nov 10, p 6.], Tom Mandracchia expresses the fashionable cynicism that makes students a non-factor in most elections. He demands that we refrain from telling him that he is doing something wrong by not voting. Tom, you are doing something wrong by not voting. You are screwing yourself and your fellow students by placing you and them in an ineffectual demographic that has no voice in the allocation of public money. The result has been a steady decrease in funding for public higher education, in which I, as a faculty member, and you, as a student have very significant stakes.
Whatever you or I may think of them, it is the people who get elected who get to decide whether to direct funding to higher education, or to give it senior citizens, or the prison system. If a state rep, or senator, or governor wants to stay in office, he or she has to avoid pissing off the people who vote. So when it comes to a competition for the bucks, you lose because you do nothing to make them afraid of you.
It does not matter much who you vote for, or whether you even fill out the ballot. If they can expect you to show up at the polls, they will have to weigh your interests into their decisions. If you don’t vote, they have to give priority to someone else. The process is not pretty. It does not always work. But fashionable cynicism will do nothing to maintain reasonable levels of tuition, quality instruction, and the reputation of your degree.
Roger Barth, Ph.D. Department of Chemistry