The votes are in, the ballots cast, the posters taken down, and yet the three-ring circus also known as the Student Association election continues. With continuing violation hearings being held for Audai Shakour and Ben Traverse after the ballot count, it seems that the final curtain has yet to be drawn. Instead of the candidates being the ones responsible for the usual election antics, this year it was the Joint Elections Committee, which proved to be the real Siegfried and Roy in the whole operation.
While it seems that the JEC charter was the admission ticket into this circus show, the fact that the JEC failed to take responsibility for the charter’s shortcomings and petty substance, is a fault on their part. They were chosen not only to follow the charter and bring dignity to this year’s election, but also to offer insight about what violations and tactics were reasonable and those, which were clearly immature. A cautious approach to this year’s election after the controversial events from last year may have seemed appropriate in the beginning, but now it is now unnecessary when the validity of the whole event is about to vanish into thin air. Before beginning the elections, the JEC should have held a caucus to update the rules or at least resisted from denigrating candidates’ reputations with publicity about their violations.
From my observations, it does seem that the Coalition for Reform was shanghaied of a fair chance in the election due to previous tension between one of the JEC members and Traverse. Then, when the tidal wave of stories was published about the petty violations against the Coalition, the JEC showed further lack professionalism in determining what information should or shouldn’t be publicized in regard to their hearings. With such a large amount of people running together, the JEC should have been more selective in speaking about the violations that were for certain individuals who made mistakes, rather than those on the ticket.
Somehow, even with the slandering of the ticket in the press, the Coalition successfully won a majority of the seats in the election, with the success of Traverse still pending. Fortunately, there were enough qualified candidates and the apparent win by Shakour is well deserved and not a complete catastrophe. With Shakour as the current victor of the presidential race, it seems that we might have acquired a passionate leader who has the ability to relate with many different student needs. From the narrow victory of 31 votes, it seems that either Traverse or Shakour would be able to execute the position with a majority of student support. Hopefully, these equally favored candidates can collaborate the ideas and stay faithful to their genuine interests in serving the students.
From my research, the majority of the problems with this election can be drawn to the JEC charter itself. However, the fact that candidates are still in hearings about trivial violations such as unregistered pamphlets and too many posters, it becomes clear that the members of the JEC are more about playing God than letting those who want to be elected take charge of their campaigns. Surely, each JEC member did not share the same idea about how to handle election infractions, but whichever member had the addiction to the twenty-plus page charter may consider seeking psychiatric help post-election for withdrawal. The admission by JEC chairman, Justin Neidig, in an interview on Saturday that “there are stupid rules in the charter, but we have to follow it,” only further proves my thesis, in an echo of the famous quote by Emerson: “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
While the official tally of votes has not been released, it is my understanding that the amount of people who voted in both elections was significantly less than in past years. This is where the JEC most failed the candidates and student body. In getting bogged down with violation hearings, the JEC seemed to forget to publicize the exact thing they were supposed to run.
As of today, there are numerous options for the result of this election, but at this point in time, another runoff should not be one of them. Hopefully, after the final outcome and the candidates are sworn in, the new SA senate will make it their immediate prerogative to reform the JEC charter and commit to nominating the JEC much earlier next year to give them and the candidates time to work out the kinks in the process. Until then, the show must go on.
-The writer, a junior majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.