by Nicole Howley | published Mar. 18th, 2014
Every candidate for office makes promises. In 2008, presidential hopeful Barack Obama promised health care and improved environmental protection: the first happened, the second did not. Last year, SG president and vice presidential hopefuls promised that they would start a bike sharing program, get all teachers to use MyCourses and that classes would be videotaped: the first is set to roll out soon, details of the second are still up in the air and the last turned out to financially unfeasible. This is all part of the process, building up voter support, telling them what they want to hear and wishing that you could change everything you want to. But I believe that making unfulfillable promises, no matter what the reason, makes a mockery of the democratic process.
We, the voters, cannot make informed decisions about which candidates would best represent our interests and needs if the information that we are being presented is inaccurate.
In the lone month of SG campaigning, it is difficult for anyone to hold these candidates accountable for the credibility of their statements. There is little time to question them when there is only one debate and the only way information about the candidates is distributed is through their Facebook pages and fliers. In the end, voters are forced to relying on who we know best or who has the catchiest slogan to make our decision rather than actual, credible information.
Now, I know that most candidates do not mean to misinform the public. Everyone I know in SG is working hard and trying their best to represent the student body. However, I know that this group of students has fallen short on a few occasions by not fulfilling their individual campaign promises or addressing bigger issues like the soon-to-be-implemented plus-minus grading. Everyone makes mistakes but SG as a whole could be more effective if the information voters were provided by candidates was more accurate.
In the end, what I am suggesting is that all people who plan to run for office make promises that they know they can keep. If you are qualified for your job, you should know your constituency and have a general idea of what students want. You won’t be able to get them a new building but maybe you can increase networking opportunities or help raise money to improve the student lounging and study areas. You have a few more weeks of prep time to do your research to see which of the changes you hope to make are actually possible. Please use them.
To everyone else, please pay attention to the election to the best of your abilities. If you see candidates making promises that you doubt they can keep, call them out on it. Tell them why they won’t be able to do what they say they want to. I’m sure that if they are actually suited for the position, they will listen to you and make adjustments to their campaign. If not, you are still a part of the final say in whether they get the position where they have at least a little more power than the rest of us to make a difference.