Having a Voice in Our Village

Cartoon by Derek Zimmermann
Cartoon by Derek Zimmermann

It seems we’ve had to write the “student voters are apathetic” editorial far too often. But with the New Paltz village elections around the corner, we at The New Paltz Oracle cannot stress enough how important it is that students living in this community go out and make their voices count on May 3.

Living in the collegiate microcosm, it becomes easy to forget that the Village of New Paltz is as much a part of our lives as the campus community. It’s almost unfounded to some that the rules and regulations set by the mayor and Village Board of Trustees apply to us. It’s as if we’re only meant to drift in and out to the bars and restaurants and then scurry back to the safety of our residence halls. But in truth, we must understannd we are an intricate part of the community in different ways.

Since SUNY New Paltz is mostly located in the village, we are residents here for roughly nine months out of the year and this area is as much a home to us as the ones we grew up in. How we spend our money, time and energy affects the village – and this does not go unnoticed.

At Village Board meetings, the students are often a hot topic of conversation. There are potential initiatives and pieces of legislation that could definitely affect the student population, like the noise ordinance or the idea to remove franchise businesses in the village. We need to show residents that we want to prove our worth as members of this political, economic and social community. If we don’t care about what affects us, why should they?

We’re all happy to complain to our friends and behind our computer screens, but this bravery and desire to change what’s irking us all too often disappears at the voting booth. It would be a shame for students to miss the opportunity to be a part of this community during the voting process only to complain about it later.

Some individuals potentially running in the elections are SUNY New Paltz graduates, as well as longtime residents of New Paltz. This means that these people are completely aware of the student lifestyle and the issues we deal with. These contenders could unite the community to make New Paltz better for all parties, but it can’t happen without your vote.

For those vying for available seats in the village election this May, we ask that communication and relations between town and village government representatives improve. Whether through consolidation, coterminous government or any other method that has been previously discussed, we believe it is time for New Paltz to become unified toward a single goal: working together as a community to improve the quality of living in our area. And we can’t do this without treating each other with respect.

Yes, this is an old song sung in a familiar tune, but it’s still worth taking note of. Things will improve if you voice your opinion in the election.

If you’re not registered to vote, take the necessary measures to do so. Take your nerve, gumption and rage to the polls and make things happen. We need to make our presence a positive one and care about the future of our community. We should be a college town, not just a town where a college is.