Candidates’ apathy no better than voters’
In case you didn’t know, elections for student body president (SBP) and vice-president (SBVP), vice-president for finance (VPF), and Student Senate are today and tomorrow. Three pairs of candidates are running for president and vice-president; you can read all about them and their platforms starting on the front page. But something is amiss.
We are witnessing the last breaths of this student government. At no point in recent memory has the situation been so grave. Without a minor miracle, there is no way the student representatives who obtain office in the elections will reflect the will of the students.
Three pairs of candidates are running for SBP and SBVP. Based on the membership of their respective Facebook groups, Karl Sjogren and Andrea Hamilton are the early favorites, Dan Horbatt and Allen Eaton are nipping at their heels, and Justin Berka and Kelly Duncan are trailing far behind (however, these numbers are constantly changing). Predicting the results of an election using Facebook group membership should be considered silly and meaningless, but this election is so fraught with problems that its results may be even more meaningless.
Senate and the current candidate teams have mucked up this year’s election process beyond reason. Senate failed to appoint an Elections Board on time. The appointment was made so late that the board’s first decision was to postpone the elections by two weeks, so candidates would have 30 days to prepare as mandated by the elections rules.
After the official dates were publicized, every member of the student body had the opportunity to fill out a petition and run for any office, but only three candidate teams signed up for the SPB/SPVP pair, and only two candidates for vice-president for finance. All eight people are current Student Senators, a problem in itself. It’s hard to say whether this is due to general apathy or a lack of publicity about the opportunity, but publicizing the elections was the responsibility of the Senate Communications Committee, led by Andrea Hamilton with help from Karl Sjogren.
Beyond this candidate pool’s lack of diversity, none of those who did decide to run have done much at all to publicize their campaigns. Only one pair — communications experts Sjogren and Hamilton — have a website, and it was only launched in the last week.
Aside from that, none of the three pairs have postered around campus at all, and most of them missed a golden opportunity to blanket Sweepstakes and Midway with campaign materials during Spring Carnival.
While all three pairs of candidates were grudgingly willing to talk with The Tartan about their platforms, they were less willing to provide official platforms to the Elections Board in a timely fashion. These official statements from each candidate (or team of candidates) are supposed to be included with their petitions, but every student body president and vice-president candidate ticket submitted their petition without a platform. None of the them submitted this seemingly important information until this weekend — weeks behind schedule.
Perhaps most indicative of this lack of communication is how a Tartan reporter had to personally inform one of the presidential candidates during an interview that there were in fact not one, but two different candidates for VPF. To make matters worse, the forgotten VPF candidate in question was Kirk Higgins, the only one of the eight people involved in the executive elections who has — relatively speaking — done a decent job of getting the word out and postering.
Higgins, in fact, has been on top of everything throughout the campaign; additionally, he has been a highly responsible chair of the Funding and Recognition Committee and has been one of the few members of the Joint Funding Committee who has acted with total integrity and accountability. He is the only candidate we unanimously endorse running for any executive position.
Overall, due to utter lack of preparation by Senate and the complete lack of communication from the majority of candidates, The Tartan refuses to endorse any of the candidates for president or vice-president. Fearing dismal voter turnout, we call for the Elections Board to invalidate any results of this election if less than 25 percent of eligible voters participate. We want to see an election where the candidates show they care. In the event of a second election, we want to see real campaigning and not just the weak façade of campus politicking.