University students unable to vote
I was in the western province of Muğla. The downtown is lively with its streets, cafes and movie theaters… The lively side of the city is the university students. In the campus of the Sıtkı Koçman University, there are 35,000 students.
On the other hand, the number of votes cast in the city center is 70,000. In other words, the number of the university youth in the city is equivalent to half of the votes. Well, are these young people able to cast votes? The majority of them cannot.
I was in the southeast province of Batman. In the shopping center Batmanpark AVM, the top floor is filled with colorful young people. They are like a river flowing on the main street. The university students are the energy of the city: 7,500 students…
Were they able to cast their votes? For example, did they have a say when the mayor of the city was elected?
The other week, I was in İzmir and Denzili. Walking along Mustafa Kemal Boulevard, the streets of Denizli, its parks, cafes and pedestrian areas are alive with Pamukkale University students. There are sports competitions and festivals…
Well, did these students vote for the administration of the city?
In the eastern province of Tunceli, the university has 8,000 students. Compared with the number of votes cast, they look as if they do not exist.
The other day in Denizli, I saw it once more.
How do these kids vote? I asked a friend of mine who is an administrator at a university. I told him that in all the cities I have visited recently, I saw the energy pouring from university students into that city, into its streets. I wondered whether this energy was associated with democracy. For instance, how do students vote in your university? I think both the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) and the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should read the answer.
“There is the civil service before students cast their votes. It is the first time they will be voting anyway. They do not have such a habit. It requires some kind of training actually to cast a ballot. And you know students avoid the civil service. They already do not have adequate belief that by casting their votes, issues would be solved. When the civil service is added to it, then the rate drops considerably. First, if the student is staying in the dormitory or has rented an apartment, then they should declare this as their second address. They need to go to the civil registration office. Which one will be their first address? Is it the place they live with their parents or the university town? Civil service starts there. There are also vacations. Thus, the rate of voting among university students is becoming lower,” my friend said.
For example, a municipality decides to raise bus ticket prices. University students oppose that; they protest and start campaigns in social media. But there is no result.
Why? It is because the youth are not potential voters.
If the names of these students were on the voter list, would the mayor be able to neglect these reactions? The same goes for all public administration, from police officers to the neighborhood headman.
If university students can grab a facility to cast their votes, comprehend the power of the ballot box and taste democracy… wouldn’t a very different democracy culture develop? How young can a democracy be where university youth cannot vote?
The voter eligibility age has been lowered to 18, but can the university students overcome the civil service?
In all the Anatolian cities I visited recently, there was energy, the energy of the university youth. Turkey’s democracy absolutely must meet with this young energy in these cities.
If this energy can be associated with democracy, then we will be able to have a young, dynamic and constructive democracy. The university youth should live in the democracy convoy not in the police cordon.