From the Editor’s Desk: Run a realistic campaign, SGA
Fluctuating Maryland weather has many confused whether it is officially spring or if we should hang on to our winter coats for another few weeks. But there is no question that a season is starting on Towson’s campus: election season.
And I’m not talking about the narrowing race for the Republican nomination and general election. I’m talking about brightly-colored T-shirts, ridiculous acronyms, buttons, Facebook groups and Twitter handles.
The Student Government Association 2012-2013 executive board tickets are all but formed and ready to campaign for your vote.
After the first contested University Residence Government election in years, those running for SGA seats are going to have to step up their game. But after three years of chalking and giveaways, I’m ready for something different.
Call me crazy, but I think next year’s SGA should focus on an engaging and realistic platform for a successful year, despite the potential mixed-tickets results.
In fall 2008, the campaign frenzy surrounding the impending election for U.S. president had swept much of Towson’s campus by storm. College students desperate for a turn in the economy and the job force they were terrified to enter stood readily behind Barack Obama, who promised change was not only possible, but would happen within his term, or John McCain, who was a powerful force for conservative policy reform.
I’ll never forget the chanting of “OBAMA! OBAMA!” I could hear through the closed windows of Richmond Hall as I watched the president-elect address the nation and the losing candidate thank those who had supported him and wish the new president luck in his sure-to-be-difficult presidency.
Four years later, where are those same college students, now adults in the “real world,” standing behind Obama or their Republican candidate of choice? Or this year’s Towson freshmen, just as excited as I was?
They’re disappointed, as the promises politicians made weren’t followed through.
Of course, the fact that politicians lie isn’t and should never be a surprise. The more specific the promises made, the more likely they seem to fail.
The Towson University SGA is no exception. Executive boards that have made vague references to their style of leadership are just as effective and often more so as those who pledge to bring changes to campus they have no means on which to follow through.
In 2009, ticket Tiger P.R.I.D.E. ran on a platform of purpose, respect, integrity, determination, and energy.
At the election debate, candidates pledged to focus on four areas of impact: day-to-day undergrad experience, student involvement, impacting the SGA in a way that improves the student body, and community-wide concerns and outreach.
Three of the five executive board candidates from Tiger P.R.I.D.E. were elected to office, and 2009-2010 was as dramatic of a year on Towson’s campus as any other. The SGA dealt with charged issues of race, senators resigned, and there was an impeachment trial for the treasurer.
The board also offered forums for communication on the new tailgate smoke-free campus policies, passed a hate-bias resolution, and worked with the Office of Student Activities to help more student groups become affiliated than in previous years.
United Stripes, the ticket that swept the 2010 election, were slightly more specific in their plans:
“While, we cannot promise to alleviate all parking concerns, we do aim to create alternative forms of transportation,” United Stripes wrote in a Towerlight editorial. “We wish for a greater TU where hundreds of dollars are not spent on textbooks for one semester by supporting the textbook rental program and its expansion. We will create a greater TU where the concerns of students are truly heard and acted upon.”
And among the resignation of their chief of staff and the former president of the University, the SGA did help in the creation of a textbook rental program, increased shuttle hours, green initiatives and diversity programs.
Which brings us the current executive board, with three out of five positions as originally elected coming from the same ticket. That ticket promised to advocate for a 24-hour floor in Cook Library and earlier and later dining hours.
They also debated the affiliation of one of the most controversial student groups in my time at TU and the resignation of their treasurer mid-year.
I hope that the Towson student population is smart enough to see through false campaign promises. No, the SGA does NOT have the authority to rent unicorns to fly you from class to class, despite their extensive budget. What they can do is serve as a representative voice of the student body, which is easier to do when students bring their concerns to light.