With a mere two percent (362 of 20,000) of students voting in the recent ASO elections, the running joke that is student government elections at SWC have sputtered, stumbled and failed.
While it might be tempting to point to the students of this commuter campus for being apathetic in shirking their democratic responsibilities, the blame for this latest electoral debacle rests squarely upon the shoulders of the current ASO administration.
This was not an election. It was a coronation.
Of the top executive positions in the ASO — student trustee, president, executive vice president, vice president of club affairs, vice president of public relations, social vice president and executive secretary — only two (executive V.P. and V.P of finance) were competitive. The rest had one candidate each. The down ballot senate race also boasted a choice of one for each seat. With a dearth of options on the ballot, it is no wonder the election was so poorly promoted and only a handful of campaign signs went up.
The lack of electoral options reflects poorly on the ASO and strikes at the very legitimacy of the organization. Who can blame voters for being apathetic when the winners were pre-determined?
This is not to say those elected are not competent or qualified for their new positions. Incoming Student Trustee Freda Hernandez did an admirable job lobbying for a signaled crosswalk at HEC San Ysidro. On the whole, the incoming ASO officers were all outstanding candidates who had no control over who else would throw their hat in the ring. That would be the current ASO.
As a collegiate government body, the ASO should not operate like a high school clique. It is not doing all it can to promote an inclusive environment open to outsiders.
Where was the promotion leading up to the election? It is not enough for the ASO to push WebAdvisor spam emails and hang a couple notices up around campus. It could have been engaging the student body year-round and could have done more to encourage students to get involved.
There is a meeting of the Inter-Club Council (ICC) every Monday, a prime opportunity to promote the election and solicit candidates. Club officers are one step removed from the larger administration already and with more encouragement might be motivated to pursue higher offices.
Melissa Rodriquez has done an exemplary job both as president and student trustee, but it is going to take even more to motivate and engage more students at SWC to step up and get involved.
I challenge the incoming trustee and president to learn from this feckless and dysfunctional democratic exercise, and prioritize inclusiveness and participation from a wider pool of students next year.
While it must have been nice running unopposed for two of the most powerful positions for students on campus, it is imperative to make the election of 2016 an aberration, not the norm.