While the last two years of Student Government elections have had central themes or issues, such as diversity and inclusion on campus or Gate-Gate, this year saw no significant differences between candidates' platforms. Instead, the central dynamic has been the Momentum ticket.
The Momentum ticket is a coalition of candidates for treasurer, vice president and president who are running together, pooling resources and funding and sharing a website. They have affiliated themselves with many of the student senate candidates as well, which makes it look more like a traditional political party than our Student Government has recently seen.
We strongly oppose this move toward tickets or parties. SG in its current, non-partisan form allows for the debate of ideas without consideration of the party alignment of the person proposing them. A strong party system could change that, or at least make independent students afraid that defying the party or ticket in charge could prevent them from advancing in the future.
Additionally, multiple Momentum candidates admitted in their interviews with us that having the ticket deterred others from running for office. It's easy to see why. Running for treasurer against a single executive official is one thing. Running against two officials and the sitting vice president united together is another thing entirely. That, in large part, is why we have so few executive candidates to pick between this election.
The candidate for treasurer, Merritt Francis, is probably qualified for the job. That's about all we can say on that subject, as he consistently evaded answers to direct questions during our one-on-one interview and had limited knowledge of some aspects of the Momentum platform he was running on. The one policy point we were able to conclusively establish he believed in was a quarterly budget system for financial request allocations. This is significant because, at present, the SG fund for student organization requests is exhausted for the rest of the school year. The quarterly system could prevent that in future years, although it would shift it to a system where some requests are rejected all year round rather than all second-semester requests being rejected. However, the candidate was unable to tell us anything about why an organization might be rejected beyond a hypothetical situation of a tiny club asking for SG to fully fund a trip to Alaska.
Understandably, that does not describe most SG requests.
However, reservations aside, we concede he is qualified for his job and endorse him over the concept of not having a treasurer.
The presidential race nominally has multiple candidates. However, two of them —Ty Dillard and Stone Davis — have no SG experience whatsoever. Dillard, when pressed about the impact SG has on campus, talked about an organization that is not affiliated with SG. He also admitted to having never attended an student senate meeting. Stone Davis didn't seem to understand what the phrase "off-campus students" meant, as he started talking about study abroad programs when pressed. He made the decision to run for president after attending a prospective candidates meeting he initially went to in order to pursue an SG senate seat. Both talked about parking policy, as many candidates do, even though the Student Government has little to no authority over the subject.
Ultimately, that is what we believe both candidates should be running for. They have good intentions regarding openness and transparency but little to no idea how the organization they seek to lead works — or even what it is.
The remaining candidate, Ross Lordo, is the current vice president. He received our endorsement for that office last year.
Lordo displayed an extensive knowledge of board of trustee politics and the financial accounts and maneuvers necessary to fund his initiatives. Most of his platform points, which include WiFi in Williams-Brice, a permanent deal with Uber and a student seat on the board of trustees, are uninspiring, practical steps that would be good for the student body if implemented — and they actually have a decent chance, unlike more flashy platforms we've seen in the past. While he gave an unfocused, inconclusive answer on more minority-focused spaces and resources on campus, the drawback pales in comparison to his opponents' inexperience. As such, we endorse him for president.
The race for vice president is contested between two baseline-qualified candidates, Dani Goodreau and Jay Selesky.
Selesky has more apparent experience, as he has been a fairly active SG senator who spearheaded the effort to create a fourth executive position. However, his platform falls apart rather quickly upon closer examination. Many of his proposals, such as an official tailgate, a new week-long celebratory event, phone chargers at Williams-Brice, cameras in every classroom and a fixed tuition plan would require lots of money or board approval. When pressed on how he would pay for or win approval for these initiatives, he proposed raising tuition or the activity fee. When asked how he would get the administration or the board to approve these initiatives, he admitted as vice president he would have little ability to influence the board.
His biggest advantage as a candidate is that after a referendum this election, the vice president's office could get split into two. This would require rewriting many SG codes, which he, as a senator, would be well-prepared for. By contrast, his opponent has never been a senator and joined SG for the first time midway through this year as the Secretary of Veteran Affairs for SG President Michael Parks.
While she lacks traditional experience, we believe that Goodreau is aggressively competent, given her ability to enter into and expand the role of a new position in SG. She has experience working with the senate and expressed a distaste for its inefficiency and irrelevance — a feeling shared by many members of the Editorial Board. We have confidence that Goodreau could use her post to change the senate culture for the better, whether or not the referendum passes.
Overall, we approve of Momentum's candidates. But we think their ticket system is a party system in the making that will make SG worse in the long run.