After a record-breaking turnout in last year’s student government elections, CU is hopeful that this will translate into increased student involvement in Boulder politics.
Last year’s student government elections had a 10,407 voter turnout, breaking all previous records. The university is encouraging students to participate in affairs of the City of Boulder by voting in the Boulder City Council elections, said Brooks Kanski, CUSG’s Vice President of External Affairs.
Kanski said voting in the city council elections are important as they impact students directly.
“The hot topic right now is their work with neighbors and residents on the Hill, including student residents,” Kanski said. “Also important are our relationships with property managers on the Hill and 29th Street.”
In the past, the Boulder City Council has dealt with the registered party system, smoking bans, the Naked Pumpkin Run, downtown parking rates, renting houses on the Hill, and the relationship between students and non-student residents.
George Karakehian, a Boulder City Council member, said the majority of CU students are unaware of how Boulder politics influence their daily lives, and student participation in past city council elections has been low.
“I haven’t seen them voting much,” Karakehian said. “The problem with students is, they’re here for four years, maybe five, and they’re registered to vote in their home states.”
Karly Smock, a 21-year-old junior psychology and sociology major, said she feels she doesn’t know enough about city affairs.
“I am registered to vote, but I haven’t yet because I don’t feel like I have enough information,” Smock said.
Kanski said that many students have difficulty finding enough interest in city affairs to vote.
“I think it all comes down to education,” he said. “It’s really important that we, as a community, educate one another on hot issues politically. Every election does count, and does make a significant impact.”
Student interest in local politics has been aided by New Era Colorado, a Denver and Boulder-based non-profit organization that aims to generate more political awareness among young adults.
New Era holds meetings around Boulder and in the UMC in an effort to inspire students to vote. According to their website, part of the organization’s philosophy is to “create a new kind of politics that speaks to young people.”
Kanski said plans are being made to respond to and encourage the recently high percentage of active student voters.
“CU is actually working to set up polls at the rec center,” Kanski said.
Adam Barsch, a 19-year-old sophomore triple majoring in Germanic studies, international affairs and political science, has yet to vote in a city council election though he said the idea interests him.
“I would, because your vote has more weight, and you can see the results of policies within a city immediately and feel them daily,” Barsch said.
By encouraging voting and making it more accessible, some at CU hope that the students will respond.
“The political climate in our society is playing a huge role, especially for students, as we grow and enter the work force,” Kanski said. “These elections apply to our lives.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Annie Melton Annie.firstname.lastname@example.org.