Half-Baked Election Season

You cannot rush democracy. Building a good democratic system is like growing a fruitful tree: it takes time and care to get the fruits right. The American experiment has worked so well for so long because lawmakers are patient with the legal system that our founding fathers put into place over two centuries ago. The core of democracy is the right to vote; without the voice of the people, a fruitful democracy cannot govern properly.

With this in mind, will someone please tell me why the hell this year SGA’s Election Cycle seemed so rushed?

Without word or warning, students came back from the beaches of Spring Break to political social media accounts and election dates only a week away. Three candidates (all of which are popular campus figures) grew to the status of political nominee seemingly overnight. Each candidate has a platform and campaign materials to call their own, but their messages have been met with confused faces.

As a voter and active member of the Marist community, I am dumbfounded by the amount of information that has been throw at me in such a short time. Promises about parking, registration and campus climate have all been presented to me, but with little time to give each agenda serious thought.

The week of March 25 was the first and last week of campaigning for all of the candidates. The frequency of the election events was dizzying. That week went something like this:

BAM! “Speech Night on Tuesday, March 26th”

BOOM! “Come and Meet the Candidates on Wednesday, March 27th”

WA-POW! “Join us for debate night on Thursday, March 28th”

We came back from Spring Break and were immediately hit with these events while we were still kicking the sand out of our shoes. How is one week enough time to collect, internalize and respond to the agendas of each candidate?

Bear in mind, I am only a sophomore. I cannot attest to the many SGA Elections in years past as some staff and upperclassmen can. But the SGA election of last year held every one of those events listed above in late February. Ted Dolce greeted students as president-elect the week we came back from Spring Break. This time around, candidates resorting to campaigning like artificial politicians: promising to address every issue someone mentions when meeting the voters. Agendas were established, drafted, rewritten and grown all during the course of one week. Students cannot be expected to vote when the platforms are not made clear.

After asking my housemates about the SGA elections, two did not know the election dates and one responded, “What is SGA?” In a school where the two largest areas of study are business and communications, SGA needs to work on its public relations with the student body.

That is to say, however, for the week given to campaigning, the SGA elections commission organized great events. Each event to hear and mingle with the candidates was very well attended. Campaigning was aggressive, but SGA kept it professional.

But the campaign process of the student body president, whose administration will guide and shape the Marist community’s voice for one whole year, should not be too short. Students need time to know who is running and what they stand for, and not just the familiar faces of the campus community.

The opportunity to vote for student body president is extended to every student, even those who do not participate in anything on campus. This is the silent majority at Marist that the campaigns should be reaching. By narrowing the campaign cycle to just one week and implementing the elections right after, new voters see the polls close just as they hear that there is an election.

By the time this article is published, the election will be over. To our next student body president: I hope your administration fulfills every promise you made during your campaign, because you did not have a lot of time to make a lot of promises.

Tony CabralComment