By KRISTEN GOLEMBIEWSKI, Opinions Editor
I didn’t want to write this column. I told myself I wouldn’t get involved in the spectacle of Student Government elections. I promised I’d keep my mouth shut for once.
Election time has never been my favorite, but it’s usually pretty amusing. I like to stay on the sidelines and watch as people make fools of themselves for positions that — let’s be real — don’t mean that much.
Believe it or not, elections used to be worse. Before the switch to online voting, I avoided campus altogether during election week. My freshman year, there were rumors that a member of one party had slashed the tires of his opponent. Whether or not it’s true, we’ll never know. But the point is that it’s still a question. It’s believable that someone would go to those lengths.
This year, no physical damage was done, but candidates were just as shady as ever. Student Voice United supporters sneered at newly-elected One Michigan Coalition presidential candidate Wedad Ibrahim, saying that she was only nominated because of who she dated in the past. To borrow a phrase from my editor, is this real life? If candidates are going to stoop to these lows, they obviously aren’t mature enough to handle the current two-party system.
For me, the final straw was when a candidate introduced himself and followed me through two buildings and to my car to pitch his party. This was at about 9:00 P.M., it was dark, and I was thoroughly creeped out. I felt harassed, and for what? So that he could earn my vote for a position that really doesn’t matter? He spent most of his time talking trash about the other party and barely mentioned what made his platform different. His pitch reeked of immaturity.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the tiny world that is the second floor, where the student organizations form their own society. It’s off-putting how seriously some people take their positions – and I’m not just talking about the students. This was the first election cycle that I really took notice of how administrators — full-grown adults — were playing favorites in a Student Government election. Again, I have to ask — is this real life? If the people we count on to guide us can’t even separate themselves from the pettiness, something needs to be done about the current two-party system.
We all need a reality check. This is a commuter campus (I know we’re getting dorms but the majority of students will still be commuting). We are not Ivy League; we are not Big Ten. The work you do here is important, yes, but it isn’t everything. We shouldn’t lose sight of what’s really important.
UM-D would be wise to disband Student Government parties. After all, OMC and SVU’s platforms aren’t really that different. We all want the same things – better parking, stronger WiFi, more food options, inclusion for students of all backgrounds. So why not work together to make these things a reality?
So much time is wasted during these elections on fighting, as if all candidates don’t have the school’s best interests at heart. Both parties went so far as to file official complaints against each other with the Student Judiciary. I’m not saying that each party’s complaints weren’t valid; I’m saying that it’s all a big waste of time. The school even delayed announcing who won because of the complaints. And for what? The Student Judiciary isn’t even handling the matter anymore because of the Chief Justice’s political affiliations. Now, the administration is handling the problem. We’re so deep into these petty politics that the Judiciary, which was created to handle problems like this, is no longer being able to do its job.
Student Government, and all organizations, have the capabilities to enact change. But until we get beyond party affiliation, change will be slow to come – if it comes at all.