SGA election to be uncontested
Uncontested elections happen. They happen in national, state and local elections every year. They happen in Towerlight elections.
But competition breeds success, which is why I have to be concerned about the SGA election.
Kevin Kutner is running unopposed for SGA president, as is his whole ticket. There are literally no other candidates for the executive board positions.
I don’t have a particular issue with these candidates (Kevin seems like a very driven person and I’ve enjoyed every interaction I’ve ever had with him, and Becky Wiacek, who is running for vice president, has been in SGA for years now and is very well-educated on the issues Towson faces).
Still, I am afraid that an uncontested election will only increase the apathy that students have for SGA on campus.
Last year, 2,805 different students cast a vote in the SGA elections. That’s a solid number at a glance, but it’s still only 20.6 percent of the entire undergraduate campus population.
And, each year, there always seems to be one senator who really deserves to be voted in, but gets short-changed because students just randomly select names from the senatorial position on the ballot. That could even be worse this year, with over 40 students running for senatorial positions.
Students should be more invested in the SGA elections, and I am concerned that an uncontested ticket running will only hurt the turnout on the election days.
According to the SGA 2013-14 budget, President Charlotte Ridgeway was paid $11,500 for this year, VP $9,000, treasurer $6,000, attorney general $4,000 and chief of staff $4,000.
If SGA is going to be an organization that part of my fees goes toward paying the president $11,500, I want to know I’m voting for a president who had to compete against his/her peers and win the support of more than just a fourth of the campus population.
An uncontested election will also cut down the debate that occurs between tickets leading into the election.
For last year’s election, when there were three tickets, I was underwhelmed at the debate that went on between the different candidates. It’s like the U.S. presidential election — I want the candidates to be pointing out what is wrong with the other’s platforms, that’s how you realize who is the best candidate.
The SGA has already relinquished its power to approve/deny student groups, and I feel that being OK with uncontested elections could set a dangerous precedent.
If no one is debating about what is right or wrong within the SGA, how are the students actually going to have their voices heard? How are we completely sure that the SGA isn’t just becoming an arm of the administration?
When I was texting a former Towerlight editor about this, the former editor pointed out, “What is the point of the organization when there is no debate, no desire within to challenge the status quo and bring something powerful to the community? As the student body has grown, the SGA has shrank in importance…Why do we bother covering a group that willingly makes itself so irrelevant?”
Again, I’m not saying that Kevin’s ticket is going to slouch off and be unfit for the job, I just think this is going to be a dangerous precedent to be setting for the future.
A perfect example of this was with the SGA fee increase this semester. When the bill was first introduced, there was a roughly 40-minute debate about the SGA student fee increase between the senators and the bill was eventually tabled to give students time to better understand the fee increase.
But somehow over the course of two months, those same senators (besides the two or three people who voted against the fee increase) went literally silent. There was hardly any debate about the bill when it was actually voted on in March.
The SGA budget also shows that this year alone, the SGA brought in $1,468,328 in student fees. For a group bringing in that much money, the students deserve a debate over the executive board — and that debate needs to extend past the election and into the weekly meetings to make Towson a better university.