Voting for the UA Associated Student Government executive team ended March 6. The student body still does not know who their executive team will be, and now we are headed to a runoff election. Within bonafide U.S. government, which we admittedly should take a lot more seriously than student body politics, officials count votes and release results all within a few hours.
In other words, our actual government is better than the UA Associated Student Government in this regard, and this is just the beginning of the problems within the campus-organization. Uptight rules and regulations in combination with what seems to be a lack of organizational consistency seems to be what turns away students who are not already engaged with the process. These rules make it so students who do not already have connections within ASG might decide against running, or even voting, just because they do not know enough to fully get involved.
Picture me: I’m from a rural town. I wasn’t in the ASG Freshman Leadership Forum, and I’m too involved with extracurriculars off campus to be incredibly involved with ASG. Suddenly, there are three tickets of candidates running to make decisions about the school I attend.
When quantified, that’s 12 candidates I need to be able to recognize and decide between and three tickets of platforms I need to learn about and rank. As a freshman, this was also when I had to find out what ASG actually does.
That is a lot to learn in only two weeks of soft campaigning during which the candidates are not even allowed to hand out campaign materials. For non-traditional students who are not engaged with the tickets on their social media or students with full-time jobs and children, this makes it very unlikely that they are going to care.
Hard campaigning happens within the last few days of the two weeks of soft campaigning, and it is over all too soon. It is unfortunate if you happen to get the flu or are otherwise indisposed for the three days hard campaigning is allowed, because that is really your only chance to learn about who is running.
If this period were extended, the extra work would not bog down campaigners. William Motazedi, a staffer from the Together We AR ticket and the ASG director of sustainability, believes in elongating this period as well.
“By increasing the time of hard campaigning, the drama of violations would decrease, students not involved in Greek Life would be able to enjoy more exposure to tickets, and the large sums of money spent on resources would be utilized in a more sustainable way,” Motazedi said.
Rules and regulations on the length of campaigns exclude average students from this process because they do not have time to engage and get to know the positions of each ticket. If ASG leadership truly wants students to believe how essential the organization is to campus, it would be helpful if the election lasted longer than a few days so students can learn what they do and how they do it.
ASG election voter turnout was around 26.5 percent of the total student population this year. It therefore seems really important to increase voter turnout, or, as far as I’m concerned, ASG barely even has the mandate to govern because the majority of students did not choose them. Implementing longer voting periods for hard campaigning could assist the issue of low turnouts, giving ASG executive branch more effective power.
Additionally, a few justices in ASG Judiciary have the ability to undermine the will of the voting student population. The methods ASG Judiciary members use to dole out violations is incredibly susceptible to bias and is another reason why many students probably think that getting involved is too difficult or even pointless.
As students sat in wait of this year’s election results, ASG Judiciary members decided on which complaints from students against candidates would result in violations, which can turn into punishments. ASG Judiciary members can choose to take away votes from whichever candidate they pick, disqualify a ticket or merely sentence candidates to writing an apology letter.
With this much power, ASG Judiciary can ultimately decide student elections. For reference, the U.S. Supreme Court does not get to take away votes from candidates in actual elections, so these ASG rules seem both unprecedented and unfair.
This campaign cycle is the perfect example of this. ASG Judiciary disqualified the Unity ticket Treasurer candidate Arianna Kiaei because she did not list items on her financial report in the way required by ASG Judiciary.
After weeks of campaigning, a career of service on campus, and a brutal campaign cycle, her hard work ended up being for nothing. The worst part is that she would have been a candidate designated as deserving to go to the runoff, too. ASG Judiciary members were able to completely undermine the will of the student body because of one discrepancy in an incredibly complicated financial form.
ASG Senator Colton Simpson commented on these discrepancies. Of the issue, he stated, “There’s an orientation session talking about the rules with potential candidates, but there are so many individual rules and interpretations that make it extremely complicated. There is definitely room for simplification to make the rules more accessible.”
In order to participate and avoid being disqualified, one must be intimately familiar with ASG rules. Candidates should also be sure be to develop a good working relationship with ASG Judiciary, just in case.
In addition, if a candidate can’t raise $3,000, the maximum amount that ASG candidates are allowed to spend, it is going to be difficult for them to be competitive. If a candidate is not in Greek Life with sororities and fraternities to raise money for them, then they have to raise that money themselves.
Those intimate with the process, like Motazedi and Simpson, and those removed from the process, like me, can clearly see that something must be done to make this process more accessible. If not, it is just an ASG insider popularity contest.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Arianna Kiaei was disqualified because she failed to report on her financial report items she already owned. It has been corrected to state that Kiaei did not follow ASG Judiciary guidelines when writing that report.
The Traveler strives for accuracy and clarity in all matters.