Staff Editorial: In light of election snafu, SU needs more transparency
Since Student Union’s Nov. 5 fall election, multiple issues have surfaced. In brief, these issues include whether the results of the election were valid, whether the election should be rerun, whether the Election Commission was right to release the election results while the previous problems were being investigated and false information being present in the press release that accompanied the results. These concerns have led to deciding whether Election Commissioner junior Randal Walker should be recalled from her position as the result of the mishandling of the election, a question that SU will vote on tomorrow night.
In light of these issues, the Student Life Editorial Board advocates for greater transparency from and within SU, and professionalism from SU toward resolving this situation and thereby ensuring future elections proceed in line with SU’s espoused values.
The flaws in the election were not immediately made known to the student body or even to the candidates. And more glaring than the lack of transparency is the false information in a press release that was sent to the entire student body. If SU is representing and advocating for the concerns of students, students need to be kept in the loop when things are not running smoothly. This problem seems to stem from a lack of communication within SU, which must be resolved. Walker’s decision to release the election results—which she was told not to do by the Constitutional Council—came before the Constitutional Council had reached a decision on the matter, and the Council noted in their report that they were unable to reach members of the Election Commission as this occurred. Infighting and miscommunication among members of SU hinders the work of their colleagues and subsequently negatively impacts their service toward their constituents.
As SU moves to determine the consequences of the mishandling of the election, the Student Life Editorial Board trusts that SU will make the best decision with integrity. We agree with the Constitutional Council that the issue lies not in mistakes in the ballot but rather in how the Election Commission responded to them and approached subsequent decisions. SU asks to be entrusted with a portion of students’ tuition as well as our time and attention in voting. SU is only justified in doing so if they act in line with the highest values of Washington University students.
We also ask that VP of Programming junior Charlotte Pohl recuse herself from the vote on recalling Walker, as the two previously competed for the VP of Programming Position and Pohl submitted the initial recall petition. This constitutes a conflict of interest and she should take this action to rid the decision of potential bias.
Students should take greater interest in SU’s proceedings generally, as they wield a massive budget and make decisions directly affecting every student group. Students in Arts and Sciences, for example, ought to know that students in other schools were able to cast votes for ArtSci Council during the election, potentially interfering with ArtSci students’ ability to make their interests heard, and students should raise these issues to SU.
Aside from the actions of SU, it is worth reminding students that part of the burden is on all of us. The glitches in the ballot may have been less of a cause for concern had voter turnout not been so low, thereby giving an individual vote the potential to flip the results. The student body would also benefit from greater interest in serving one another. In this election, four of the six positions available on ArtSci Council went unfilled. Lack of competition for positions prevents any form of screening for quality of candidates, and can lead to significantly more work being placed on fewer people, who will be strained to properly execute their role regardless of their abilities and commitment.
We hope that in future elections SU does a better job of maintaining a system that functions properly and more efficiently handles crises such as this.