As the College Council prepares to pass the torch to a new group of leaders, we at the Record are left wondering why such an important process failed to achieve the goals of a simple democracy: rule by the people, for the people.
To be fair, College Council set up a system in which theoretically after self-nomination, a candidate would have to speak and debate with their fellow students about why he or she is the most qualified to be elected. The reality of what actually occurred was far different. Out of a campus of 2000 students, only 25 elected to run for 18 offices. Compare this to the 100 students in a capella groups or the 500 plus students involved in IM broomball.
Clearly, only a small number of students on campus feel the responsibility of working on the Council is worth running for office. More importantly, only two people submitted their applications for the presidency on time, creating a situation where the only contestation will come from write-in candidacies.
We see many problems with a system in which seven offices will not even be put to a vote. It is too easy to dismiss the elections as a result of student apathy: the problem is more complex.
The campus-wide e-mail distributed to students encouraging them to submit self-nominations allowed only a four-day window. The interaction between peers is vital to encouraging more students to run for positions. Years of watching politics on television have trained us to the point where we need constant reminders of an upcoming election.
More communication is needed between the students and College Council. The nominations, roles and responsibilities all need to be posted publically, either in a central location or electronically, so that students can see what positions still need candidates, and what each office requires in terms of time and effort.
Instead, in an effort to curb excessive spending, candidates are this year are only allowed to spend $60 on signs and posters. The results were easy to see: potential candidates, unaware of the looming nomination deadline, simply didn’t run. Controversial topics, radical political viewpoints, and inflammatory posters are all traditional collegiate methods that encourage people to run for office. Without them, people simply assume that an election deadline is not taking place.
This is perhaps the greatest fault: in the current system, no efforts were made after the initial e-mail to inform the student body that the number of applications was sorely lacking. Instead, many students expressed anger and surprise upon reading in the Daily Advisor that their co-presidents had already been elected. By default, at least a week, if not two, should be allowed between announcing the elections and setting a submission deadline. Unless next year’s Council sees fit to change the current election system, low interest and poor communication will continue to ensure a farce of a student government elected by default rather than by choice.