Students will have a decidedly undemocratic election for the 2011-2012 UVUSA leadership with only a single presidential ticket on the ballot.
The recent application period for student body officer candidates went largely unnoticed, chiefly in consequence to the Election Committee’s poor advertisement efforts, as demonstrated by the single candidate group running in this year’s elections.
As representatives handling approximately 12 million dollars in student fees each year, it is imperative that the Election Committee extend the deadline for applications, delay the election and push for more advertisement to promote a democratic student election. The lack of response from those authorities is unfair to students, and does nothing to encourage change or initiative within our governing body.
The team that is the sole option for next year’s student body officers is a group already within the current student government. As incumbents of that government, they have, to say the least, an upper hand on any outside candidates and, in this case, applicants.
Without proper advertisement, which is relied upon by outside parties, the chance for outside parties to become involved or apply is poor. If the student government wishes for a democratic delegation of power, they should be held to higher standards of publicizing those governing positions. They must hold the opportunity for any student to participate in the government of the school a priority above loyalty to previous student government bodies.
Knowledge about the application period, information on the application and campaign process, and particulars about policy should be openly accessible to any student interested in running for student government; UVU Review feels that the Elections Committee has failed to be transparent about this information to those applicants not already within the realm of student government, giving an unfair advantage to incumbents.
Furthermore, the Elections Committee consists of partial student body officers, including, at this time, Student Body President Richard Portwood as the Elections Committee chair. This committee reviews and approves all campaign finances and materials and also decides penalties for broken rules. This means that there is no objective third party making these critical decisions. Instead, the organization of the Elections Committee leaves them to the hands of friends or acquaintances of an already favored group.
If the Elections Committee decides to proceed with the pretense of an election, we feel that a write-in candidate must be allowed. For that to happen, however, the rules concerning a write-in’s campaigning must be clarified, as well as how one would cast that vote on the electronic voting platform. This information must be provided to both write-in candidates and the student body.
Additionally, providing an advisor from Student Life or an extension of the Elections Committee for each applicant would serve to grant access to vital campaign information.
To further bridge the gap, a financial endowment would allow students from low-income families to participate. These students may not be as able to afford campaigning as a more privileged student. As a school, we are failing to take advantage of their valuable experiences and insights to what the university needs.
As illustrated in the example before us, it is clear that there should be a change in election rules that promotes equal opportunity and non-partial practices.