A New System


Opinions Editor

It’s that time of year: SGA election season. Most students have surely noticed the throngs of hopeful candidates scrambling to collect signatures from the student body, with the desire to run for our fledgling government. 

The Student Government Association is entering its second year of operation, so it is natural it should still have a few wrinkles to iron out, one of them being its archaic system of election. In its current form, potential candidates are required to collect 100 signatures, 25  from each class, in order to be put on the ballot. This simply does not work, for several reasons. SGA needs a more efficient system of election if they plan to continue having them for years to come. 

First of all, when you have several people desiring several different offices in the same place at the same time, an issue begins to arise: everyone is asking everyone for signatures. You know when it’s SGA election season because the caf is a frenzy. It becomes impossible to sit down to a meal without candidate after candidate approaching you, asking for a signature. Some people really don’t care about SGA elections, and subjecting them to that isn’t improving their impression in any fashion. It comes to a point when you’re so tired of strangers coming to you asking for support, that you’ll sign anything, simply so that you’ll be granted respite. It’s just irritating being asked over and over again to sign petitions for complete strangers when you don’t even know if they’re qualified to hold a leadership position.

This brings me to my next point: literally anyone, given enough time and energy can scramble around asking people for signatures. It requires no leadership expertise and no organization. Why is qualification for nomination determined solely by one’s ability to collect names on a sheet of paper? 

I had one person approach me last week asking for my signature so he could run for president. I asked him why he wanted to be president of SGA. He responded, “I don’t know.” I asked what he planned to do if he was elected to the office. Once again, “I don’t know.” I asked why I should sign his paper, then. He said, “I don’t know, just sign it.” And so I did, because I wanted to continue my lunch without having to argue about some trivial petition. It’s not his fault, though. He was never asked to have a platform or any ideas. That’s an issue with the system, not the candidate. 

What SGA needs for future election seasons is a system of nomination that is less intrusive to the student body’s daily habits and one that better demonstrates the candidate’s qualifications. I would suggest that candidates be required to write and submit a cover letter. The letter should include a statement of intent, as well as evidence demonstrating the candidate qualified to hold the position they desire. 

These should be posted somewhere accessible to students, yet not in the way. This way, the students who care about the election can review their potential representatives and select the ones they’d like to support. Then, after enough time has elapsed, the two or three candidates for each position with the most support can be put on the ballot, in a run-off election, and the student body can make their final choice. This way, the less qualified candidates are weeded out more efficiently and the whole student body isn’t embittered about being harassed for signatures.