9 April 2019
Imagine three years back when the presidential election of 2016 was in full swing, with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton battling for power and the position of the president of the United States. Both candidates are fighting to win the American people’s vote, one campaign speech at a time.
Now imagine that two months before the election, one of these candidates mysteriously chose to drop out. Maybe Clinton. Maybe Trump. But consider the possibility of only having one major candidate to vote for in the upcoming election.
There would be an incredible amount of blowback, and it would be an insult to the democratic process that defines our nation in many ways.
With only one party to vote for, it becomes dangerously close to the authoritarian, one-party system we see in dictatorial governments where the people may have the right to vote, but they can only vote for one party, whether that party is the only political party in the country, or simply the one that can cheat or rig elections to get the results it wants.
All of this is marginally reminiscent of the recent election for the Student Government Association (SGA).
Likely, if you have been following any amount of politics since the 2016 presidential election, you have strong feelings generated against one side over the other, or maybe strong feelings against both candidates, for that matter, which is true in college student government elections as well.
The division and polarity initiated by that election has caused a deep divide between the American left and right, even divides within the Republican and Democrat parties respectively. The election was high-profile, with a lot of stakes involved in who won the presidency. This is how all elections are supposed to be.
With only one party to vote for, it becomes dangerously close to the authoritarian, one-party system we see in dictatorial governments, where the people may have the right to vote, but they can only vote for one party, whether that party is the only political party in the country, or simply the one that can cheat or rig elections to get the results it wants.
This is the problem with only one candidate running for a position in the student government election.
While one-party dictatorships are certainly an extreme example to compare SGA to, the election problem is still there.
This semester we saw only one contested position: Senator of Multicultural Affairs. Everyone else who ran is now your Student Government representatives. Period.
Now, it should be clarified that I am not writing this because I was particularly upset with any of the candidates that ran and were elected. After I attended the Candidate Q&A panel earlier in the year, I thought many of the candidates had plenty of good ideas about how to improve the school.
However, candidates that are able to talk about good ideas in a panel are not guaranteed to effectively put those ideas into practice, and put it into practice in a way that responsibly utilizes the approximate 350,000 dollars that the students give to SGA via the Student Activity Fee.
Additionally, it is entirely possible for candidates to run for student government simply because they want to thicken their resume, not necessarily because of a desire to improve the school.
There are students who may not make strides to determine if a bill or event is going to pay off, and instead opts to throw money at it, regardless of the merits of said bill or event. If this turns out to be the case for any of the candidates next year, we as a student body will have to live with the results, good or bad.
Even if you do not care about the role our student government has during however brief of time you’ll be here at UCCS, understand that SGA is still important, and that SGA’s purpose is not just to put on a couple of events for people to have a neat “college experience.”
They are there to be a voice for students and are there to serve student interests. Students will always have their own perspectives on what would make their department, club, etc. better, and as long as we have that, we need a student government.
This leads to my final point, addressing those that are not so cynical. To the reader that’s reading this because you are a dedicated fan of The Scribe, or simply reading this because you are waiting for a meeting in Main Hall and have nothing else to do: UCCS needs you to be involved.
Not enough people are making an attempt to get involved in SGA, and more people creating a more competitive election is exactly what SGA and the school need.