Lack of candidate choices for SGA signals bigger problems


Illustration done by Ariel Landry.

Members of The Maroon staff attended the SGA candidate debate on March 12. These candidates are qualified. They have creative ideas such as solving issues about food insecurity. They seem rightfully critical of the previous SGA administration. They strive for transparency and they are ready to invoke change.

However, there remains a fundamental problem. This event was not a debate, nor is this election an election.

All 15 people who are running for an elected position will be elected.

There are not enough people running for SGA positions. These candidates have no opposition. Having healthy competition allows candidates to push each other, think on their feet and solidify true stances. Without competition, voters are forced to accept and trust the ideas of those running.

Our only two options are to either trust in and vote for them — or to not vote at all. Not only is the election only a formality — these candidates will be elected no matter what – there is no alternative to voting for them. We are not provided a write-in option, a no confidence or a no vote.

To be fair, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates — Jessamyn Reichmann and Freedom Richardson – claimed that they would be active in finding qualified persons to fill the empty spots. They seem competent and well-intentioned. But the idea of unopposed candidates sets a dangerous precedent. What will happen when someone runs who is not qualified or we cannot confidently place our trust in them? What will happen when this person will automatically win because they have no competition and the system provides no other option? They will get elected, and that fundamentally is a failure in a system that is supposedly democratic.

Our student government is no longer an elected student body — they are a volunteer organization at this point. A volunteer organization made up of people who seemed to know what they were talking about, albeit, which works for this year, but they are a volunteer organization nonetheless. The point of student government and student involvement is to have competition, choices and healthy pressure that fosters leadership. This year, we don’t have that, despite the obvious qualifications of those running.

This lack of candidates and involvement is not historically unprecedented in previous Loyola elections. But over the past two election cycles, we have had three presidential tickets. Now, we only have one. We should begin questioning why we don’t we have a wide variety of candidates. Why are not as many people running this year? This should signal to the student body that something went wrong in the previous administration.

In the debate, Richardson, current senator at large and presumptive vice president, said of the administration, “There was no sense of cohesion within our student government senate.”

Reichmann also criticized the administration’s communication with the student body, saying she felt that “there was a lack of communication, at least available with SGA and what they are currently doing.”

If you feel like your voice was not completely heard through voting, or you chose not to vote due to lack of choice, we need to hold the incoming SGA accountable. Even if they are qualified, they did not get the chance to prove themselves in a normal democratic election cycle. We owe it to them and they owe it to us to give them that sense of competition by paying attention to what they do. Senate meetings are every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and they are open to everyone. This year, that was not advertised enough, but Richardson stated he wants to improve attendance, and moving forward, we ought to hold him to this.

We acknowledge as an editorial board that our SGA coverage this year has been lacking. As a student-run media, we also have a responsibility to hold them accountable and ensure that they are challenged and questioned in a way that they were not in the election.

Even though the election is over, this is not an end to student voices being a part of SGA. Fundamentally, it is on us as a student body to ensure that the governmental body representing us does so with integrity.