This page argued Monday that the gravity of the charges raised against Student Association executive vice presidential candidate Anyah Dembling – alleging she paid for individuals’ College Democrats memberships in exchange for votes at the group’s endorsement meeting – necessitated a serious investigation into whether or not they were true. The Joint Elections Committee, however, has dragged its feet, postponing the hearing until after the election is complete on Friday. This incident is representative of how the JEC is merely perpetuating the stagnant SA status quo.
The SA has suffered over the last couple of years as corruption is repeatedly exposed. In the middle of one of the most positive and uplifting campaigns in recent SA history, the JEC had the prime opportunity to act decisively and show that scandals would no longer be tolerated. The JEC must understand that, regardless of intent, its actions give the appearance of impropriety. Any leader will concede that in the real world, perception is everything. Regardless of how much or how little is going on behind the scenes, the way things are handled outwardly dictate how people will feel. The JEC, by proactively addressing this serious matter, could turn a possible scandal into something positive in proving that such impropriety will no longer be tolerated.
Equally disturbing is the fact that the JEC lacks the ability to try candidates for bribery. The JEC bylaws offer no guidance or sanction for the JEC to prosecute offenders. As a result – if the allegations prove true – a candidate that potentially committed one of the grossest offenses against student democracy could be elected to serve in office.
The JEC should be rebuked for its inaction on this critical issue. It must move with due haste in investigating the allegations against Dembling so that it can restore student confidence in its work. In addition, the JEC must work to amend its bylaws to face the realities of the democratic process.