StuCo Saw This Coming

Spencer Slovic–In the wake of all the recent election controversy, heated meetings with Jordon Elliott, and failed write-in campaigns, there’s one thing the OES community should know: StuCo saw this coming. The part of the constitution in question, the part that limits a run-off to two candidates, in fact was discussed by Student Council while reworking and amending the constitution this year—and they failed to do anything about it. Making an amendment to the constitution takes a two month waiting period, a written proposal, and “marketing” to the student body. Out of the three amendments Student Council chose to propose this year—that anyone can run for president, the mission groups, and the preferential voting system—they chose to do two of them. And the third came back to bite them.

First of all, to clear up Grace Hashiguchi’s email supporting the write-in campaign of Sarayu—that wasn’t from all of StuCo. Grace made a mistake in framing the email as coming from StuCo (even though she never explicitly said it was). Let’s stop trying to hide under the false pretenses of the “less than 50%” argument. Much of the student body is ready to elect a woman. The cold fact? There could have been a female president elected this year. If StuCo had changed the voting system to a priority system or a multiple vote system, called in slang terms the “alternative vote,” there could have been a female president. It’s great that three girls ran, showing the student body’s want for more female leadership, but if Sarayu, Alexandra, and Natalie had not split the votes of people who consider having a girl president a priority, one of them would be in the run-off and this controversy would not be happening.

 

A preferential voting system is the most progressive, fair way of running elections we can possibly do as a school. I’m not going to describe it here, but you can look it up—it’s not too complicated, and I don’t see why people would have problems with it. If one of the candidates was everyone’s second choice, they might be the most well-liked and preferred candidate but would get no votes under the current system. A single vote for each student doesn’t give everyone a full voice. Say I liked three of this year’s seven candidates—a single vote only gives me a third of my voice.

 

StuCo needs to stick by their own rules and deal with the consequences of their mistake. Yes, they messed up, but trying to change the system because of the results is not the way to make changes. This is dictator-level election interference, perpetrated by those we elected to represent and lead our school. If you don’t like the rules, change them, StuCo—you’re the only ones who can. Maybe the change will happen next year. If anything’s an inciting incident for change, this election is. Congratulations and good luck, Charlie and Daniel. You’re in the run-off, fair and square.

 

Student Council is flawed, and it has nothing to do with constitution. All that policy board did this year, according to a member of policy board, is that single amendment to the constitution. Nothing else. It’s not like the US Congress—there’s no gridlock or disagreement. They discussed the results of the Citizenship Survey—remember that? probably not—for a month. What came out of it? Nothing. The real issue is the structure of StuCo meetings themselves—the proportion of saying to doing. People talk a lot during StuCo meetings—they run their mouths till they bleed—but when push comes to shove, they fail to act (or or kept from acting). Actions speak louder than words, and though students are vocally encouraged to speak up, in terms of actually enacting the things we talk about there is a suppression of free speech.

10 thoughts on “StuCo Saw This Coming

  1. This comment is not meant to reflect on our current body of candidates (or the original seven), but simply in the language used to reflect the election process and the implications of such language.

    In the article above, it is written: “It’s great that three girls ran, showing the student body’s want for more female leadership, but if Sarayu, Alexandra, and Natalie had not split the votes of people who consider having a girl president a priority, one of them would be in the run-off and this controversy would not be happening.” My problem is with the idea that three women would split the votes between those voting for a woman to be president while the four men don’t split the votes for those voting for a man.

    The implication is this: If we are voting a man into office, we have voted for the person who we best feel will represent them (men don’t split the vote, so all of them are individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses that can be weighed individually). But if we are voting a woman into office, we are doing it simply to put a specific gender into office (because they split the votes, all of them are viewed as “equal” so it’s the women versus Man 1, Man 2, Man 3, etc.).

    It is correct that the “less than 50%” argument is not as important as it’s being made out to be. After all, we’ve had around 5 candidates in the past few elections (last year as the only exception), so relatively even voting would still have resulted in a close to “40%” of the voices being represented. Given the time frame students are currently given to elect a new president, my guess is the 2 person run-off rule is simply to move the election process along in as quick a manner as possible while still being fair.

    Long story short, when discussing the gender bias of the election process, let’s be incredibly careful about the messages that are being sent. We had 7 individual candidates with individual strengths and weaknesses. If this is not the belief, than the “affirmative action” approach discussed two years ago (where we had one male and one female president) is one way to change that stereotype.

    • Thanks, Edge- the Dig isn’t meant to be a definitive news source, or to be a reflection on the views of the staff as a whole or even a definitive position of the author. I suggest viewers read the “About us” (https://theaardvarkdig.com/2014/02/03/about-us/) article describing the purpose of the Dig. Many of the articles are satirical or over-emphasized to start a conversation. For example, I don’t personally see the female candidates as “interchangeable”. I’m just explaining and elaborating on something the student body has been discussing for years. Bringing various aspects of the election to light in juxtapositions that may not be comfortable for some people, and for that I apologize, but staying in our comfort zones will not bring about improvement.

  2. Thank you, Spencer, for voicing the frustrations of the student body in an articulate way that’s easy to understand.

  3. This article embodies basically everything I think about when it comes to the “write-in.” And, to be honest, it seems like this is just StuCo’s way of hand-picking their next leader. Writing in an extra name on the ballot feels like a protest, and I don’t see why we need to be so against the current run-off candidates. Sure, they are males, and yeah, we haven’t had a female president in literally forever, but I’m sure that one year we will. I don’t think it’s right for StuCo to badger the student body about who to “consider voting for” so that they can get the outcome they want. There are two great people in the run-off and that’s that. Unfortunately, I also think that some people are going to participate in the write-in just to “screw the system.” The way the election is run needs some updating for sure, but not this week, not after votes have already been cast.

  4. OES elections (for all positions, not just the StuCo president) often come down to run-offs, due to two factors: an unrestricted candidate pool and a relatively small electorate. Simple majority voting in these conditions, as Spencer articulates above, delivers fairly arbitrary results… year after year. However, as Mr. Edge noted, it’s important to distinguish procedural concerns from substantive ones. Please don’t reduce female-identified candidates by suggesting that they are interchangeable. Please do make procedural changes (you can start by getting rid of that ridiculous two month waiting period to make an amendment).

    • Thanks Jordan.
      The whole article doesn’t reduce the female candidates to “interchangeable” parts, just one paragraph that explores an argument that has been discussed and debated by the student body for years. It wasn’t “suggesting” that they were interchangeable, just explaining a scenario that could have realistically happened.

    • That waiting period is there to allow for student discussion and to ensure that our student government is not just a group of an elite few, but a collaboration with the entire student body.

  5. What if OES ran a primary and a general election like the US does with the Democratic and Republican parties? In the primary election, the female candidates could run against each other and the male candidates could run against each other. You’d have one female and one male candidate from the primary results to then run against each other in the general election. To me, this seems like the easiest and most fair solution.

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