There is this idea that being a member of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the Associated Student Body gives you clout. Our student government has struggled and made unnecessary errors over the years because we elect the wrong people to the wrong positions. Every spring we are convinced by every candidate begging for our vote that somehow, he or she will make a change regarding the election process. Somehow, they are so much different than their predecessors.
As the director of voter registration and elections, I know first-hand that ASB representatives have the power to make the necessary changes, but we have found time and time again that they just don’t. The reality is that some students just want to build their resumes for life after graduation. Many of them don’t truly understand the inner workings of government.
Let’s be honest — these positions are basically popularity contests. If you want to get more minorities and people from low economic statuses to run for these positions, you have to do two things: Change the rules and empower them.
The recent fiasco regarding the Homecoming King legislation was quite egregious and disturbing. I want you to try to understand the context from which I’m speaking. These events are listed in chronological order:
— The Senate passes legislation to have a Homecoming King in spring 2018.
— The then president vetoes it.
— The new attorney general (who has now resigned), improperly uploaded the vetoed legislation regarding the status of the Homecoming King legislation and put it as a position for fall 2018 on the ASB’s public website.
— The current president found out about the veto at the end of the summer but never made a statement.
— The first Tuesday after school started, Senate (the voice of the student body) voted to override the veto.
— The ASB released a statement on the day petitions went out saying there won’t be a Homecoming King.
The process was confusing and misleading, to say the least. I know that ASB is far from a “real” government, but I can tell you that no governing body or organization should operate in this fashion. ASB’s explanation for its decision was two words: time and equity.
It has nothing to do with time. This time component serves as a buzzword. I have seen much more complicated things happen in smaller amounts of time. You can give people all the time in the world to prepare, but if they don’t have hundreds of organizational members behind them and disposable campaign funds in their budgets, they will still be at a huge disadvantage. If “time” is an issue for Homecoming King, it is an issue for all of the positions. In all positions, year after year, candidates complain about the amount of preparation time they have between school starting and certification/campaigning week. Don’t tell me it’s about time, because time has been an issue for candidates for years.
This aspect of equity is easier said than done. It is so funny that the same people who benefited from the unfair system through use of these “large organizations” are now complaining about them. Regardless of who wants to make the positive change, I am here for it, and I commend them. However, we are still going in cycles. The individuals ASB says it is trying to protect from this disadvantage were never going to run for this position, in the first place.
The integrity of our student governing body is now questionable.
I want to encourage all students to pay attention to elections because they matter. Engage with candidates in the future and hold them accountable.
The student body went into this school year hoping to Expect More, but like always, we Received Less. At the end of the day, people get done what they want to get done — period.
Jarrius Adams is a senior public policy and political science major from Hattiesburg.