The Student Government Association (SGA) is an amazing organization with great potential.
That being said, recent changes in election bylaws that were reported in last week’s Signal should not go without question or concern.
In the Feb. 4 issue of The Signal, it was reported that an election committee would be formed to help the alternate student trustee with the campaigns.
SGA also passed bylaws allowing candidates to advertise at school events, make banners, speak on megaphones, throw parties and advertise on WTSR, the College’s radio station. SGA decided against allowing advertising in The Signal, because the Signal is in the Student Center, which is a campaign-free zone. This allowance of advertising in The Signal was a good one.
Before any changes occurred, it could be argued that everyone who wanted to run for a position for student government would be on some sort of equal playing field.
However, with the new changes in the election bylaws, candidates with more funds at their disposal, time on a radio station and the ability to buy unlimited flyers and banners may have an unfair advantage.
With this internal decision, has the election process become even more focused on who has money?
Campaigning in college papers and radio stations is not an uncommon practice at the college level – schools all over the country give their political candidates the freedom to advertise in any way possible?
SGA president Christina Puglia said, “Some senators were worried about it because they wanted an equal playing field, I think that by removing the restrictions, candidates can go to other places for support if they don’t have the money to finance a campaign.”
In many ways, Puglia makes a good point – to remove previous restrictions would give everyone a fair shot, in the perfect world.
In the real world, campaigning is about money so we should suppose that the SGA is trying to reflect the nature of the beast.
A word of caution to those that voted in favor of this bylaw, especially those that voted in favor of being able to spend more money campaigning for their own greedy needs.
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has by far the best campaign fundraising abilities out of the seven candidates, but finds himself a distant second to John Kerry, who had far less money than Dean.
For all the candidates who intend on using an extraordinary amount of money to create a huge edge over the competition at the College’s own elections in April – what happens if you find yourself in second?
What happens if after all that spending – you lose?