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The value of a vote:

by Staff Editorial

BSG candidates run uncontested

Mon, Mar 27th 2017 09:55 pm
Elizabeth Pritchard/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST
Elizabeth Pritchard/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST

 We all remember the 2016 Brockport Student Government presidential election. If you don't you either lived under a rock or you were born after the election season, in which case The Stylus has two things to say to you. First, welcome to the big, bright and beautiful world. Second, congratulations! You missed the fiasco that will most likely define future elections to come? If you wish to experience it at Brockport - candidates thrashing, claws out and all - you won't be able to during this year's BSG election process.

Don't get us wrong. Those running for office within BSG are everything that America's presidential candidates weren't: civil, sophisticated, cordial... you fill in the blanks. However, there is one striking difference that we here at The Stylus just can't seem to shake. A majority of the small handful of individuals that are gunning for BSG office positions are all running unopposed.

We'll let the initial shock of finding out student elections have begun to fade away sink in. Upset? You're preaching to the choir. We're campus journalists and we didn't even know until recently. But now that we're all on the same page, let's break down this whole "everyone's-basically-a-shoe-in"  competition.

First, we've got Elisha Madison running unopposed for BSG president, a position that is currently held by senior Devin Bonner. Now whether you lived under a rock or not, unless you're fresh meat, there's no way you could've missed the elections last year. Bonner, and her running mate Danielle Fenley went up against numerous competitors. The campus atmosphere was thick with competition and students were bombarded with campaign posters and slogans galore. The claws were out, yet more importantly, so were the students. People went out of their way to engage with the candidates through debates, Q&As and even social media. This year, the debates we'll be lucky if they see more than 30 students out of the approximatly 1,900 that currently reside on campus.

Also running unopposed is Vice Presidential Candidate Joshua Matthews along with six Senator runners. Note, there are seven Senator positions open. According to BSG, the seventh position will be open for candidacy next fall. For now, the runners - Chanque Peart, Jordan Small, Shay Harris, Mariam Kamagate, Ben Kopcienski and Jack Merritt - are guaranteed for next year as well.

Call us crazy, but isn't the point of an election to actually, well, elect? If there is no one to choose from then it kind of defeats the purpose of democracy. Why waste the student body's time with an "election" when the leaders have already been chosen for us? Now, we might be coming off as a little harsh. After all, BSG can't force students to run for office but then we're faced with a different issue. Why don't people want to take part in one of the most influential and integral organizations on campus? BSG runs everything from campus club budgets to issues of social justice to Brockport's biggest events of the year. Where is this lack of interest coming from?

All we can do is assume that Brockport has somehow created an environment where students feel like they can't do meaningful, productive work within BSG. This could be attributed to the organization's extensive staff network. They've got multiple marketing coordinators, program coordinators, a full web of on-campus and off-campus senators and a plethora of office assistants. Faces are always changing and honestly, it's hard for the average student to keep up with it all. 

Speaking of keeping up with it all, BSG needs to clearly define who they are and what they do every single semester. Bonner, Fenley and treasurer Zach Loveless' group picture may be the first thing you see when you choose to meet the staff on the BSG website, but their titles aren't even there. If I were a new kid on the block, I'd have no idea who those three people were. Even a caption would help for crying out loud. The little things matter because the truth is, BSG is basically a foreign concept to many students. They need to market themselves in a way that students will remember.

Madison and Matthews have already started preparing their plans for Fall 2017 but they've got to market themselves too. One vote will seal their fate (and ours) as official president and vice president of BSG but both must take the time to make themselves known to the students. It could be argued that there is plenty of time to get acquainted next year and that their faces will become known as their plans begin to make waves at Brockport but why wait?

There can be benefits to campaigning even if you're running against yourself. For instance, did it ever occur to these candidates that student recognition and support could help carry their agendas farther along? We Golden Eagles are small in numbers but mighty. Candidates can use the students' support as a solid foundation for their ideas and, in return, students can decide early on if the ideas putting forth by our fearless leaders are worth the time or not.

Not to mention the school spirit that is normally associated with the BSG election. Brockport lost some of that and rightfully so. It has been a tumultuous academic year and the campus political and social climates are just starting to cool down. We'll need our student leaders to pick it back up again but if students are not seeing the value within BSG and the effect of the organization's actions then Brockport's got a bigger problem than an unexciting election season. 

The only choice students will have concerns the office of treasurer. Chantelle Nasri and Steven Penta are up against one another for the title once Loveless graduates along with Bonner and Fenley in May. 

That means that the rest of BSG has got till then to somehow get students engaged in this election. So far, students couldn't care less and honestly, why should they?