With the recent release of the list of candidates running for College Council (CC) this spring, we at the Record are greatly concerned by the small number of contested elections. This scarcity of electoral competition, specifically in the case of the race for CC president, brings to light the structural and cultural issues surrounding the Council’s election process. We believe that in order to avoid any future dilemmas of a similar nature, CC needs to make both their organization and electoral process more accessible and understandable to the student body.
The Record recognizes that each uncontested candidate running for office is highly qualified and will be an effective council member if and when they are elected. However, the lack of choice on the ballot puts the student body at a disadvantage. Having to run against another ticket provides opportunities for healthy competition and a forum for creating and sharing new ideas. Competition, in short, keeps the candidates sharp. In addition, we feel that no position in the College’s governing body should be filled by default. Though we recognize that this is not always possible, an ideal election is one in which the student body has a variety of candidates from which to choose. Since each election provides a new group of aspiring representatives to express their commitment to interests of the students, each voter should be able to choose the contender who best represents their individual vision and interests.
One reason that higher level positions encounter difficulty sparking competitive campaigns is because students outside of CC perceive that there is a set trajectory for each position, and that they will be ineligible or unqualified to run if they have had different experiences.This assumption is not true. It should be the job of CC to make it clear that anyone on campus can run for any position, regardless of their experience. One way of achieving this goal would be to more actively pursue potential candidates. Leading up to this election, the mass distributions of information for those who wanted to run were two all-campus emails. Other more personal methods of outreach, such as tabling in Paresky or having well-publicized informational meetings, might result in a larger pool of candidates.
The Record strongly recommends that CC commit to broader outreach to prospective candidates for future elections. It is additionally necessary that the student body rise to the occasion of public service henceforth. Students often complain about the state of affairs at the College, but the work required to create effective change represents a large emotional and active commitment to the community. While we at the Record acknowledge that public service, and frankly, service in general, often requires a degree of personal sacrifice, the key to addressing the uncontested election and accusations of apathy lies in each of us thinking critically about our willingness to contribute to the College. We hope to witness a change in this culture moving forward.