By Justin Bercovich
In a final attempt to educate voters before the UC Santa Cruz campus election polls close this week, student athletes gathered at the base of campus on Monday to rally support for Measure 31.
“We hope that people will see us and come out and vote,” second-year volleyball player Matt Smiley said. “We are just trying to raise awareness any way we can.”
Representatives from every NCAA team surrounded the intersection at Bay and High for seven hours with signs promoting the referendum that would give the athletic department an additional five dollars per quarter from every student.
The “Honk if you support sports” signs resulted in an overwhelming number of honks from cars, trucks, buses, and fire trucks.
Even Sammy the Slug made an appearance. When asked about the importance of Measure 31, the tall, yellow mascot simply answered, “It’s going to save athletics.”
Fourth-year soccer player Didi Ramirez explained the importance of gathering at a place where thousands of cars pass each day.
“In previous years, we have had people who had no idea we even had sports at this school,” Ramirez said. “This is just to draw attention to the measure itself and to tell people that we have athletics, and we need some support.”
This is the first year that the rally has been held. After last year’s athletics referendum failed, the athletes knew that they had to do more to get the word out.
“It was really disappointing last year because we missed it by half a percent,” third-year swimmer Payam Saljoughian said. “If every student athlete got one extra person to vote, it would have passed. This year, we are trying to go all out.”
Despite last year’s disappointment, everyone in the department is feeling good about this year’s election.
The big question is whether or not the rally had any effect on the people passing by. Fifth-year student Harlan Lewis, who watched the event from a bus stop, does not believe that the athletes’ efforts will have much of an impact.
“It’s raising awareness,” Lewis said. “But people who aren’t going to vote aren’t going to vote, and people who are going to vote are going to vote. This isn’t going to change the way they feel about it.”
Soccer player Reiser did acknowledge that the entire student body did not pass through the gates of campus on Monday, so not everyone could be reached.
“I don’t know if this is the most ideal place because not everyone has a car and there are a lot of people up on campus who never make it down,” she said.
But the rally is still worth the effort.
Reiser continued, “Some people are becoming aware, which is what we want.”