Prior to beginning, I should make it clear that I am writing this as a recently elected candidate rather than the current USG Treasurer. I should also note that this article only reflects my opinion and not those of the USG or Students First party. With that out of the way, the USG Election results are in! The Students First party (the only official and organized party) won every seat it ran for and more importantly the Student Activity Fee remains mandatory.
This past election had the second highest voter turnout in USG’s short history (second only to 2006) with more than 2,000 votes. That is more than double the number of voters in last year’s election. The obvious reason for the higher voter turnout is the Mandatory/Voluntary vote, which takes place every two years, but I think there is more to it than that. Not only did Students First win, but they won with over 70% of the vote in most of the races. But the purpose of this article is not to simply point out the obvious, but rather to provide some insight into the elections as well as a bit of criticism.
The main problem is the USG itself. Clearly the USG does not do enough to reach out to students on campus. I do not blame the current leadership of the USG (which I am a member of), in fact this year, in my opinion, has one of the most competent Executive Councils in USG history. But clearly, there is something we are not doing. Thankfully, there is currently discussion about how to modify the current structure of USG and certainly constitutional reforms are desperately needed. I think it may be that the current setup of USG is not conducive to creating results that matter to students. If I were to list the accomplishments of the USG this year, most of that list wouldn’t mean anything to someone not already in USG. It seems that every year is “setting up for next year” and so the question that faces the USG at all times is, when will we actually do something?
With regards to the current election, it is almost always the case that the USG elections are just a few USG insiders seeking re-election or climbing the ranks, but this election was different. For the first time, the USG insiders unanimously united together and formed one party (Students First). The only opposing party (an unofficial/informal party) was the “New Era” party. The New Era party did however manage to elect three of their members.
One unfortunate aspect to the elections was the appearance of race/culture as a divisive issue. The campaign for both sides quickly became “us vs. them” and it led to regrettable statements from both sides. It is a shame that to this day race remains a topic of discussion. Of course it would be extremely optimistic to hope that after this election, race disappears from the forefront of USG politics, but perhaps a little optimism may be helpful.
Overall, the USG is in good shape for next year. I feel these elections established the fact that the students on this campus are tired of the nonsense in the USG. They want to see a united front and an effective USG that brings about results that matter to them. In my interactions with both the students and the administration the goal is clear, improve student life on this campus.
By the way, if you are reading this article and you have a suggestion about the USG next year please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.