Scandals perpetuate apathy toward Student Government elections

Katherine Taylor

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past two weeks or you’re part of the majority of the campus population that doesn’t care about Student Government, you’ve heard about the two disqualifications of candidates running for SG president and vice president.

Yes, two of the five campaigns for president of the student body have been disqualified. Judging by the signs in front of what I like to call the super PACs of the University — the sorority and frat houses — and the screams of their minions in the West Mall — overzealous pamphlet-distributing freshmen — the two disqualified campaigns were the front-runners.

For those of you outside of the SG bubble, let’s recap what happened. First, former presidential candidate Yaman Desai and his running mate Whitney Langston were disqualified after one of the members of their campaign misrepresented herself to get information about the campaign website of their opponents Madison Garnder and Antonio Guevara. Desai and Langston went so far as to challenge their disqualification until the campaigner showed the The Daily Texan the emails in which Desai asking her to lie about her association with his campaign. He only dropped out of the race when there was incontrovertible proof illustrating his actions. Looks like we all dodged a bullet. Thankfully, Desai won’t be president of SG.

With Desai and Langston out of the race and with the diversity that Guevara brought to the table — Guevara was the only minority candidate that remained — the path was clear for them to win the race — that is, until the Desai and Langston campaign got involved. In a move I’d like to call “The Yaman Strikes Back: Revenge of the Whitney,” Jasmine Kyles, a former member of the Desai/Langston campaign, filed a complaint against the Gardner/Guevara team that resulted in the latter’s disqualification. While Kyles released an online statement claiming she acted without malice, it seems naive to think she acted otherwise considering her loyalty to Desai and his fraudulent actions.

While the punishment for Gardner and Guevara seems rather harsh given that they were disqualified for having an association with another candidate because of a picture in their promotional materials, don’t go feeling sorry for them. First, they were warned about the offense before the disqualification and refused to act. And now Gardner and Guevara are showing their true colors by suing the University for violating their constitutional rights.

Are you kidding me? They were disqualified for breaking the rules after they were warned once about their actions. Now they got the Travis County Court to postpone the presidential elections so they have a chance to get back on the election ballot? What a waste of everyone’s time and money — Travis County’s, the University’s and students’ — over some self-indulgent whining. You broke the rules, you got punished. Deal with it.

So we’re left with two campaigns: John Lawler/Terrence Maas and Thor Lund/Wills Brown.

Lund and Brown offer such novel ideas as giant campus events in the fall and spring for the students, which makes me wonder if they’ve ever heard of Forty Acres Fest, Explore UT, Texas THON or the Orange and White Ball, just to name a few.

“Big John” and Maas want to “increase profit sharing from the University trademark, a department currently housed within UT Athletics,” to increase revenue, according to their campaign website. Let me get this straight: They think their roles as SG president and vice president will allow them to restructure and redistribute the earnings of a system that is housed in multiple departments and that SG doesn’t have direct control over? Insert scoff and disbelief here.

Both campaigns want to increase campus safety by expanding the SURE walk program, but I can’t help but point out that the Butler/Baker campaign of 2011 promised the same exact thing. Even after the rapes and murder that rocked the campus early this year, nothing has been done to make West Campus any safer ­— at least not by SG — so I’m going to call foul on SG’s ability to get this campaign promise done.

It’s not that any of these ideas are bad, but SG presidential candidates love to make promises to change things they have no control over. When they don’t promise things that they could actually put into practice, how are we supposed to take these campaigns seriously?

With the scandals, lies and empty promises that have defined this election campaign so far, is it any wonder that so few students vote or care at all?

Taylor is a Plan II and rhetoric and writing senior.