Forum

SBP candidates show no concern throughout year

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Don?t you find it annoying when people talk to you only when they need something? It?s one of the most unbelievably rude things a person can do. Typically, the shameless favor-seeking individual gets snubbed or ignored by most people. Why is it, then, that we as constituents of our student government see this behavior as acceptable when voting for potential student body representatives?
Every year, when spring rolls around, we hear and read about the people that are running for Student Body President and Vice-President. They pass out flyers and lollipops in hopes of persuading their fellow students to vote for them. And more recently, they?ve graduated to creating Facebook groups and inviting random students. Recent campaigning methods are defective and do not convey any real messages.
Last year, a week before elections, a Presidential candidate came into my fraternity meeting to promote his candidacy. He had some good things to say and some pretty solid goals he wanted to accomplish. However, I didn?t believe a word he said. It was quite obvious to me that he was coming to campaign because we belong to a very large demographic of the student body (my fraternity is one of the Asian fraternities). Not once did the candidate meet with us to discuss what we wanted to see accomplished until he realized that our vote would help him win the election. Instead, he went to each of the Asian Greek organizations one week before the election to give a short promotional speech. This sort of self-interested behavior is disgusting.
As a result of this type of campaigning, many students have rightfully lost their faith in student government. Why should I, as a student, believe that student body politicians will care about what I want after I place my vote? They obviously didn?t care about my wants and needs until one week before the elections. Therefore, students will rarely vote because they sincerely believe candidates will greatly help the community. Instead, quite often, they will vote because they are friends with their chosen candidates or think they are ?pretty cool.? As a corollary, the entire election breaks down into a simple popularity contest. It?s no wonder lollipops and Facebook groups have emerged. You don?t need to convince anyone that you?re the best candidate; you just need to make sure that everyone knows you and likes you.
Politicians are there to serve the people, plain and simple. The positions of Student Senator, vice-president of finance, all the way up to the President, are around not to boost an individual reputation or r?sum?, but to serve the constituents. Voters should very clearly see ?what?s in it for me? when voting for candidates. Instead, we do not know what is in it for us. I can?t even name what my Student Senators have accomplished for me. While this may be a result of my general indifference toward student government, it serves as a testament to the little interaction there is between student government politicians and their constituents. I suspect that I am not alone in this matter.
Sometimes, I wonder if Student Body Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates decide about running earlier than a week before the election. If they do, why not begin talking to people about the issues earlier? I know that a large amount of credibility can be built up simply by discussing the issues and concerns of the community a whole lot earlier than one week before the election. Why does this behavior persist, then? To me, it is clear evidence that student government candidates simply do not care about the wants and needs of the student body until votes are needed.
Politicians, at the end of the day, are public servants. As constituents, we should also be demanding things from them. Our issues, concerns, wants, and needs should be known by whoever represents us. Before we can trust student government with making our campus a better place, however, we need evidence that they are for real. I challenge next year?s candidates to begin caring about their constituents some time prior to one week before the elections. I challenge the candidates to sincerely care about the issues and not to have simply a superficial understanding of them. Perhaps then skeptical students like me will stop complaining and start voting.