A funny thing happened at Sacramento’s American River College, where only 300 of the 30,000 pupils voted in recent Student Council elections.
Since many of the school’s citizens apparently didn’t care, they left a power vacuum to be filled by their more civic minded peers, a not uncommon trend across the nation.
Low voter turnout isn’t unusual at American River, or at many colleges and universities. Nor is it unusual – at colleges with low turnout – for a group of students with a shared interest and a desire to serve together to run for office as a slate, and to win.
Many of the new leaders of American River hail from the former Soviet Union, a region not known for its pro-gay policies.
And those policies seem to have been enacted here in the States.
When only 300 students vote in elections, it’s not hard for a new group to gain seats – and so 5 of the 16 members of the Student Council are from the former Soviet Union. On Tuesday, they pushed a measure that passed 8 to 3, with 3 abstentions, to back the effort in California to ban gay marriage.
Not only did the Slavic students provide the margin of victory, but their rhetoric angered many supporters of gay rights. One council member was shouted down, according to newspaper accounts, when he called gay people “the aggressors” and said that sexual orientation is a matter of “personal choice.” Another accused gay people of organizing “propaganda for homosexuality in front of the cafeteria.”
Outraged by the ruling, opponents are organizing a recall vote and have already gathered 400 signatures for the political bailout – twice the required number – but have yet to get the ball rolling on actually getting the polls reorganized.
School officials, meanwhile, are trying to turn the negative into a positive, saying the gay marriage vote has helped reenergize campus politics. And all it took was a bit of gay flame under their butts.