In the last days of the Student Assembly presidential election, a flurry of complaints of campaign violations surfaced in what would have otherwise been a fairly quiet election. Unfortunately, this seems to be evolving into an unwelcome tradition in the SA election process. A new SA bill proposed after this past election aims to resolve some of the fundamental, underlying problems that promote this type of petty campaigning. We applaud the SA for finally moving in a direction to reform the election process, and we want to ensure that this bill helps clarify the entire process for future elections.
The first act this bill must take is to spell out the process of selecting and training the members of the Elections Commission. The SA president must be actively involved in this process to ensure the election process will be fair. While this task may not be very glamorous, it is a vital part of the SA president’s role and deserves a higher level of commitment than it received this year.
The position of Election Commission Chair must be advertised to the entire student body in a more effective way than a mention in a Student Happenings email, which many students will immediately send to their email’s trash folder. This position is important; students should be aware of this opportunity and should be encouraged to stay involved. Furthermore, all the members of the Elections Commission need to be appointed at the beginning of the semester — not the week preceding spring break — so that they have time to learn and understand their roles.
Many of the complaints filed during this last election appear to have been mishandled, such as the failure to notify a candidate accused of slander until five days after the complaint had been filed. The Elections Commission needs to be adequately informed of the policies which they are entrusted to enforce so they can follow through in the appropriate manner. Without these standards, the purpose of the Elections Commission is null and void.
While the process of determining the Elections Commission needs serious reform, the SA presidential election process needs a complete facelift to ensure that these problems do not continue. As it stands, the SA code is ambiguous concerning the definitions of what constitutes a breach in the campaign process. If the definitions of what constitutes a campaign violation are made clear in the SA code, then every candidate can be held accountable by a well-informed Election Commission. Beyond that, existing rules need to be updated to reflect current issues in the election process, such as whether the suspension of a campaign extends to a candidate’s social networking and campaign websites.
These reforms are the only way to improve the election process, which has become an embarrassment for the entire SA. The student body needs to be able to hold the SA responsible during these elections, and part of this is encouraging the entire student body to become actively informed about these election reforms. If we are to have a functional SA, then the change must begin with the selection process.
Editor’s Note: Katherine Chiglinsky recused herself from the staff editorial to remain unbiased in her reporting.