The results are in and, by an 88-68 vote, Wesley Lowery is our new NABJ student rep. Congratulations are in order to both Wesley and Marissa Evans, who ran a fierce campaign as well. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know both of them via Twitter, and finally in person at the convention, and I believe we were lucky to have both individuals vying for our votes.
The results of the runoff, however, have left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not because I don’t think Wesley will do a great job representing us, but because the turnout was still incredibly low compared to the number of student members in the organization. Only a total of 156 students out of 1,140 voted this time around (if that number is wrong, please correct me). That means only 16 more students felt compelled to make their voices heard. That’s only 14 percent of student members. More of us voted in the 2008 election! So why did we, as the future of our organization, fail yet again?
Call it generational apathy if you must. People our age just don’t care, well, about anything. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that our attention is divided among school, work, and familial responsibilities. Many of us are juggling internships, full or part time jobs, preparing for the new school year, and so on. No, I am not making excuses for my fellow Millenials/Gen. Y’ers/whatever you want to call us. I’m simply saying maybe this runoff election wasn’t handled much better than the first. Think about it. How many of us are glued to our cell phones throughout the day? Maybe we could have had text voting, a la American Idol? That’s not to say that there wouldn’t have been problems with that method as well, but it would have at least given those of us who are away from our computers for long stretches of time another outlet to have our say.
In any case, the election is finally over, and it’s time for Wesley to get to work. I hope that all student members, whether they voted or not, will be proactive in working with him toward the betterment of our organization. As for Marissa, we haven’t seen the last of her, and I hope she’ll run again in two years with the same hunger and determination that she had this time around. We were fortunate to have two talented, driven individuals want to represent us and give us a voice among those of our elders. Let’s not fail them by remaining passive about what goes on within NABJ. It’s our organization, too.