With a clean sweep of executive council positions and only two seats challenged in the senate, the number of uncontested positions in this year’s Undergraduate Student Government election is unacceptable.
No one in particular is to blame—it is clear that every student who wanted to run had an equal chance to do so. However, elections like these damage the legitimacy of USG and discourage students from participating in government. This is especially dangerous in a time when voter turnout is low and the student voice is already weak.
USG must act quickly to rectify the problem, either by creating provisions for write-in candidates, establishing a vote minimum or giving students the option to vote against the candidates. As it stands, all the executive council candidates will get the positions they are running for, even if the only vote they receive is their own.
Measures to counteract this should have been explored and implemented by now, but since they have not, the results of these elections need to be challenged in the USG Supreme Court—any undergraduate student has the ability to do so by following the procedures in the USG constitution.
This is not to say that this year’s candidates are in any way distasteful. Presidential candidate Garry Lachhar has made significant contributions to the campus as vice president of Student Life this year, and Steven Adelson, who is running for re-election as vice president of Academic Affairs, is one of the most proactive and responsive members of USG.
But the fairness of the elections is paramount. An election in which voters have no choice but to rubberstamp the candidates is not democratic.
With regard to the Student Activity Fee ballot initiative, there is no question that students should vote to keep the fee mandatory. The student body votes on the fee every two years—it is essentially a tax that funds every club on campus. If the vote fails and the fee is made optional, free riders will abound which will cause many of the services students take for granted will cease to exist.
The Statesman is holding a USG Candidate Forum on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the SAC Auditorium. Assistant News Editor Hanaa’ Tameez will ask the candidates a series of moderated questions, after which the floor was be opened to audience questions. This is an opportunity for students to involve themselves in the elections process and keep the candidates accountable.
Questions tweeted to @sbstatesman with the hashtag #USGforum will be incorporated into the discussion.
The Editorial Board