Students should keep faith in Student Government

Abinav Kumar

“Through this one-and-a-half-month-supposed-to-be-two-weeks election process, I have seen leaders in the student body align themselves with some unethical decisions,” vice presidential candidate Austin James Robinson said. “I have seen the student body speak out against said decisions, and I have seen the possibility for an actual culture change within the governing organization of the University of Texas at Austin.”

This “actual culture change” has become the central issue of this year’s executive alliance campaign — the focus has completely moved away from a comparison of policy points to a contest of “who is best suited to turn around Student Government culture.” We begin to believe that the entirety of Student Government is a corrupt, no-good organization that everyone should dislike. We ought to stop generalizing the legislative organization, which serves many crucial purposes, and begin focusing on solvable policy issues.

The Helgren-Kim campaign received the Daily Texan Editorial Board endorsement because of “the culture change they aspire to create within Student Government.” It is clear that the campaign did not stick with this message. Helgren-Kim campaign members filed three complaints against the Dimitroff-Guadiana campaign in the span of 24 hours, without any attempt to resolve their concerns in a more diplomatic way.

Several of the campaigns utilized the Election Supervisory Board as a weapon to eliminate the opposition rather than a check on abuse of fairness. Of the three complaints filed, only one complaint held up in the ESB hearing. Dimitroff-Guadiana failed to disclose complete finances when required, and accepted the imposed fine without complaint. Had the campaigns communicated, the complaint that actually was an issue would have been the only complaint filed.

The candidates’ quick devolution of principle has the student body riled up. This anger may seem good for the democratic process, since more students are passionate about the process and motivated to be involved, but our anger blinds us to the original issues at hand. We are so wrapped around this so called need for “culture change,” we forget it is not the entirety of Student Government that acts negatively; it is a select few candidates that we tend to focus on.

Presidential candidate Kallen Dimitroff commented on the effects of anger in the student body.

“People creating an environment of anger towards SG is dangerous and only undermines students’ ability to advocate for ourselves,” Dimitroff said. “Frankly, the way the narrative has been skewed is irresponsible, had we had more notice of this election from DoS we could’ve more holistically addressed this. The goal of our campaign was to regain the trust of the student body so that SG can be a source of change — if elected we will make that happen without misguided divisive measures.”

Student resentment gave rise to an abolishment movement, led by the Chapman-Robinson campaign. Although well intended, it will likely result in a hostile environment for next year’s SG leaders. The next executive alliance will constantly fear any missteps leading to the abolishment of SG by an unpredictable and fed-up student body.

No tangible recommendation on how to change SG culture has manifested from any of the candidates. The student body simply wants something new, something not “establishment.” This anger is misguided and harmful to the democratic process. We ought to focus on the real issues that have real solutions, not the select campaigns ruining the image of our legislative organization.

Kumar is a PACE freshman from Sugarland. Follow him on Twitter @ImAbiKumar.