Elections for the Executive Committee and the Student Judicial Council are scheduled for the upcoming two weeks. And many of you will largely ignore it. You won’t vote. You won’t help the campaign. You will barely listen to the platform of the students. If you know a person running, then you will likely vote for that person over others without listening to the others.
So, I challenge you to prove me wrong. I cannot speak for the Student Judicial Council but several times this year I have heard from students that they feel the Executive Committee does not accurately represent the student body. That the Executive Committee does not represent LBGTQ+ students. That it doesn’t properly represent racial minorities on campus. And even that the Executive Committee doesn’t represent the current set of ideas on campus. They are right. The Executive Committee is currently comprised of mostly white students, 10 out of 11 undergraduate students on the Executive Committee are in Greek Life, and, as far as I am aware, all current members of the Executive Committee support the single sanction – a defining idea of our honor system.
However, that does not mean you get to silently complain when you don’t vote, you don’t run for office and you don’t help your friends run for office. Ten years ago, I likely would have agreed the system is rigged to not allow students of social, racial, ethnic and ideologic minorities to take a seat on the EC. But we have proved that wrong in the past few years. For perhaps the first time in the history of this school, the majority of the Executive Committee is comprised of women. All three officers are women. We have the first black woman serving as president of the Executive Committee, Elizabeth Mugo, ‘19. The year before she became president, Mugo won the election for vice president while, arguably, not having the same name recognition as her opponent. She took it on herself to run instead of sitting back in silent protest.
So, I do not think it is impossible for a non-white, non-male, non-Greek person to run for and win a position on the EC. It is too late for someone reading this to run for an officer position due to the required interest meeting occurring last week. But there are two sophomore seats, two junior seats, two seats for seniors, and for any law students reading this, a seat for a second-year and a seat for a third-year. There is also a seat for every class year up for election for the Student Judicial Council. I strongly encourage you to consider running. Talk to your friends, put together a campaign plan and ask current and former student government members for advice.
And while you consider running for a representative position, take charge in the officer election. I am currently unaware who is running for the secretary position of the Executive Committee. But I do know that Will Bolton, ‘20, is running for president and Helen Gray Dunnavant, 2L, is running for Vice President – and I wholeheartedly support them and will vote for them. But that doesn’t mean you have to. I don’t know right now if anyone is running against them but if anyone is you should listen to their positions. Encourage discussion on campus and don’t fall victim to name recognition. I usually support electing officers who have already served on the Executive Committee because they understand and have experienced honor proceedings. They know how the system works under the White Book and I know they have read it. But twice during my time at this university, the student body has elected vice presidents who have never served on the Executive Committee or as Hearing Advisors. So, I will not agree with the notion that experience is all that matters, and name recognition will always win out.
Get out the vote. Find a candidate you support and help their campaign. Remind your friends all day on election day to vote. Bother everyone on campus about voting until the Student Elections Commission sends an email announcing that a record percentage of the student body has voted. Do not sit by and let another election happen without exercising your right to vote and make a difference. By choosing not to vote, you are failing yourself and your fellow students.
The time for complaining has ended. It is time to run. It is time to vote. If you want change, you need to participate in the elections.