By: Editorial Staff ~Newswire~
Last week’s SGA election was a turning point for student government at Xavier. Caleb, Quigley and Kiana (CQK) were elected with only 8 percent of the undergraduate student body vote. This situation justifies the need for a frank discussion about the future of civic affairs on Xavier’s campus.
Following the election, the Newswire reviewed the process and was saddened by the events that led up to the vote. Several major organizations on campus, the Newswire included, failed in their obligations to inform and engage the student body.
This is no way meant as a criticism of the current SGA executive elects. Out of all the students on campus, CQK were the only ones who cared enough about the Xavier community and its dynamics to run for executive office. However, the process leading up to their election was deeply flawed and made for a half-baked campaign when all three candidates were clearly capable of more.
In the future, the editorial staff hopes that university administrators and the student body give greater attention to the SGA election process. SGA is an important aspect of the Xavier community, but is often viewed as a dysfunctional institution incapable of impacting students’ lives. This perception is unhealthy to the student body, and the passivity that plagued this election process should not happen again if students want a functioning SGA.
This editorial does not reflect the views of any one Newswire staff member but is a collective piece that speaks for the entire staff, outlining the work we feel must be done in order to have a more effective election process.
For the sake of transparency, the Newswire must first inspect how the paper did not properly do its job leading up to this year’s election. As the campus’s main news source, the Newswire failed to inform the student body about important election updates like how to register to become a candidate, when debates would be held or how students could engage candidates in Board of Election (BOE) sponsored events. Our role is to be the voice of the student body by publishing crucial information about the election before, during and after the voting process. In the wake of a changing election cycle, we failed in this duty. In the future, the editorial staff agreed that greater attention will be given to on-campus elections, and we will ensure that every piece of pertinent information will be published in a timely manner so students can be properly informed before SGA elections.
Board of Elections
The editorial staff also hopes the BOE reforms its election outreach efforts. In past years, executive elections had two or more tickets. This competition usually allowed BOE to do less promotion and focus more on informing students about candidates and their platforms.
This year, the BOE failed the student body. Prior to the registration time for candidates, the BOE did not publish a Facebook post, tweet or place signs in well-populated areas to inform students about how they could run for SGA. Students interested in running may not have had the necessary information.
In conjunction with this misstep, during the week of voting the BOE failed to get information about the election in the weekly student email and only placed one hardly noticeable sign in front of Gallagher to inform students about online voting.
The Newswire was disappointed in the BOE efforts and hopes future officials will reform their process in order to better educate the student body on SGA events.
Student Government Association (SGA)
This year’s election process was the first time the new SGA election policy was implemented. The 8 percent voter turnout shows that the change was a mistake.
SGA’s current image perpetuates the erroneous idea that their activities are not important to all students. The resultant complacency allows Senators to be grandfathered in and executive tickets to run unopposed. The Newswire and BOE are partly to blame for not informing the student body about elections, but SGA’s policy decisions had a damaging effect on the institution as well.
The change encourages student passivity and rewards senators for minimal work. If Andrew, Fare and Josh (AFJ) had a shortened term, then senators should have a shortened term also. Going forward, the editorial staff encourages future SGA executives and senators to hold a conference with the student body and discuss ways to prevent this failure from happening again.
The Student Body
The Xavier student body is also responsible for a sizeable portion of the election failure. An 8 percent voter turnout is an embarrassment. Students have two days to submit an online ballot. If properly informed, there is no excuse for turnout to be this low.
Even when the election process is well publicized, the average voter turnout hovers around 30 percent. The editorial staff is saddened by this level of complacency.
Students cannot claim to be active citizens in the world when they ignore pressing issues at home. SGA has a negative connotation partly because students will not do anything to change this. For people to complain about student activity fee misusage and then not vote is a clear sign of hypocrisy.
The editorial staff encourages students to overcome passive attitudes towards SGA and participate in campus elections. We implore students to run for vacant positions, vote and keep the institution accountable. If students do not do this, then no one has the right to complain.