Another February, another bitterly contested SA election. Assuming the JEC sifts through the alleged mountain of violations and does not disqualify anybody, Jason Lifton will ascend to the presidency by a margin of about 51 to 49 percent, and EVP candidates Logan Dobson and Rob Maxim will advance to a runoff from a race where all four candidates received at least 20 percent of the vote. Though contested races are nothing new in a school full of budding politicos, these numbers illustrate one of the most competitive elections in recent memory.
When you’ve lived through a few of these seasons, you’re used to the awkward aftermath. Losing candidates’ signs soon litter the Academic Center grounds, ripped to shreds and replaced with runoff posters of those who have lived to fight another day. Many of the candidates’ ideas meet a similar fate, with the winners assuming that the proposals of their erstwhile opponents aren’t worth adopting into their platforms.
In any other election, that might very well be the case. But with the presidential and EVP races decided by the slimmest of margins, it’s clear that many of their opponents’ plans are more popular than the winning candidates might want to believe. I urge our new crop of student leaders to keep some of the losing candidates’ strongest proposals in mind as they get ready to lead a student body that spread their votes fairly uniformly among the presidential and EVP candidates.
Although I did not vote for her, I was impressed by the activist spirit that underpinned Xochitl Sanchez’s candidacy for SA president. She spoke to a large block of students, myself included, who detest the SA’s penchant for internal bickering at the expense of the real concerns of its constituents. Sanchez was right to believe that an outsider’s perspective is missing in our student government, and I urge Lifton to consider tapping some newcomers for posts within his administration to ensure he is surrounded by diverse perspectives. In this way, he will be able to combine his SA know-how with an awareness of student needs, and avoid the “bubble” that often blinds executives to student concerns. Given his experience, I am hopeful he’ll take the first path and be the capable and responsive SA president we deserve.
Whether Logan Dobson or Rob Maxim ultimately prevails in the EVP runoff, both would do well to remember the plans that Jon Binetti and Josh Goldstein espoused during their campaigns. As a longtime crusader for student concerns, Dobson shares many of Binetti’s ideas for increased SJS transparency and an end to the SA’s obsession with trivial inside matters. Moreover, Binetti’s goal of reducing red tape between students and the administration dovetails with Maxim’s desire to simplify interactions between student orgs and the SA, and Maxim should prioritize these concerns if he prevails in the runoff.
Finally, Goldstein’s pledge to act as a liaison between the SA and student organizations suits Dobson and Maxim well and reinforces something many candidates overlook: We want an EVP who will improve orgs’ relationship with the SA and hold our leaders’ feet to the fire when résumé padding distracts them.
To be clear, I’m not trying to force anyone’s hand or tell candidates to revise their platforms.
But it’s worth reminding President-elect Lifton and the future EVP that some of their former opponents’ ideas – reducing bureaucracy, increased responsiveness to student concerns, and an end to meaningless infighting – are absolutely worth fighting for. Just because the candidates who brought these concerns to prominence lost the election doesn’t mean we should abandon their reasonable and long-overdue proposals.
It’s easy to forget that last point during the victory party, but if our SA leaders really want to succeed where others have failed, they better remember it by the time they take office.
The writer, a junior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.
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