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SAIC Student Survey

Opinions Mandatory, Voting Optional: What's in a Survey?

by Kristin Anderson Barrick

SAIC students rank average when it comes to voter registration, but even those who intend to vote often have no idea how to go about it.

The perception of artists and consequentially art students is that they are socially conscious, motivated individuals. Looking around SAIC, political buttons are seen pinned to many bags and backpacks. Are SAIC students a shining example of social awareness and political action or does a button’s small message say all there is to say?

In October, a survey was conducted in the 162 North State Street residence hall to determine how strongly students feel about the current state of national politics and their knowledge and participation in voting.

Results show that though the majority of students (87.5%) disapprove of the current administration and additionally support impeachment (71.5%), they rank on par with national statistics on voter participation. Most (61%) students are registered to vote with only slightly less (56%) intending to vote in the November Congressional elections.

Unfortunately, a great number of those who intend to vote in the November 7th election are either unregistered or have no idea how to request an absentee ballot. 46% of the students who are registered in another state do not know how to request their state’s absentee ballot while only 33% know how, with 21% not responding.

The students surveyed were residents in one of SAIC’s residence halls, where paid residence advisors (RA) supervise their lives with educational, cultural and social programs. With the importance put upon “Get Out the Vote” activities amongst 18 to 24 year olds, the low level of knowledge regarding voting found among these students is disheartening and disappointing.

The most common reason students do not intend to vote is not having enough information. This combined with the lack of knowledge regarding absentee ballots highlights the lack-of-information problem. 94% of students have no information problems when it comes to an opinion of the George W. Bush administration. When it comes to acting on these opinions, students who are required to have laptop computers and high speed internet connections are ironically disconnected.