The final straw was when there wasn’t a write-in option for SCWSC President. I mean, why am I even voting if I don’t have a choice of who to vote for?
Let me backtrack for a moment. The election for SCWSC President was a mess, and it’s time someone did more than write a News article about it — it’s time for a real opinion. This is in no way endorsed or supported by anyone I will discuss in my article, I just think this needs to be voiced.
Last semester’s candidates are perfectly respectable people. Knowing both of them a little bit, I would just like to say that they did not deserve any of the backlash from the terrible election process last spring. If the school wanted certain restrictions on the election — like poster signs being a certain size and being taken down by a certain time — the way to go about it was to warn the candidates of what they had found, then torn them down. That way, nothing would have been left, and no one would have put anything new up.
Instead of discussing issues with the presidential candidates, the canvassing committee merely disqualified them. While candidates were in fact, aware of the rules, the canvassing committee had never upheld the rules in the past, and while the presidential candidates were held to this new standard, candidates for every other position were able to disregard the same rules and were not penalized. Why now? Why these candidates, suddenly and without warning? Embarrassing, disrespectful, and overall not the right way to go about anything.
Then it happened again — a new election and both candidates were disqualified again. A few options would have been:
- Just count the votes anyway. The people have spoken, and you’ve never cared about the rules before.
- Follow the old and new constitutions and have the VP of Clubs take over as SCWSC President. (The old constitution says that in the event that anything happens to the president, the VP of Clubs takes over. The new constitution states, “The Vice President of Clubs shall… act as an SCWSC President under extenuating circumstances.”)
- Have a new election, with new candidates, immediately, so that the year would not be started without a president.
Instead, OSL (the Office of Student Life) decided to push off the election until September.
VP of Clubs, Elka Wiesenberg, became interim president. She expressed in a quote to the Observer that all of SCWSC really stepped up and pulled a lot of extra weight to accomodate for the lack of a president. For her part, she explained that she worked with TAC and Syms presidents on the welcome back bash, appointing justices for the student court, and met with all student council presidents to approve clubs.
Many of us believed that Wiesenberg should become SCWSC President. She had already done so much work — why shouldn’t she be? Then an email from OSL was released, stating that she wasn’t even allowed to run, because she was already an elected member of student council. Students created petitions, allegedly spoke to the Dean of Students, and nothing. The voice of the people was not heard. A discussion took place regarding the write-in of Wiesenberg for the presidency. I believe that rumors of this reached the school, and that was why they made the undemocratic decision to eliminate the option of a write-in.
With only one name on the ballot and no write-in option, many students chose not to vote at all. Why? Many students questioned whether they should bother to click a button, when it did not matter. Students had nothing bad to say about the single presidential candidate, Aleeza Katz, but they felt as if there was no reason to vote.
Last year, I asked a student council member why they were having the election in September instead of choosing one of the three options above. She answered that OSL wanted a president who is representative of the student body’s wishes. Since Wiesenberg had been voted in as VP of Clubs, they argued that this was the will of the student body. In terms of having another election, the poll numbers had decreased overall with each election, and they wanted more students to vote.
Well, it is safe to say that OSL has eradicated this goal and successfully taken away the students’ voice.
Photo: Beren Campus, 245 Lexington Ave