We find Alan Mitchell’s article this week (page 9) compelling. We agree wholeheartedly that the campaigns for ASPC positions should be issue-based in order to encourage campus dialogue about real and relevant problems. In order to encourage campaigns that thoroughly describe candidates’ stances on relevant topics, TSL recommends that the campaign season for ASPC elections be extended to a full two weeks from the current six days.
With the current system, students running for office register with ASPC Wednesday afternoon, submit two hundred words for candidate statements that evening, send an e-mail to the student body Monday and then hope they are elected by Tuesday evening. Longer campaigns would open the door for more improvements in the election process.
Yes, the general apathy expressed by many students would still be an issue. Only around half of the student body, 852 students, bothered to spend the three minutes needed to submit their vote. At the ASPC presidential debate Monday night, fewer than ten students were in attendance aside from the expected (but also small) group of PSU members, deans and TSL reporters. The feeling that ASPC does not play an important role clearly exists around campus.
The solution to this must absolutely be a multi-pronged approach. ASPC elected senators must use their position to address issues that students care about and that will attract the interest of the community—even if they’re more controversial matters than ASPC has traditionally tackled. Candidates should do more than making Facebook events and sending an e-mail. And students should make the campaign more competitive by asking tougher questions and demanding that riskier issues be addressed. In the ASPC presidential debate, after all, the candidates spent much time agreeing with one another about various issues, including the high priority of the bike policy as the most pressing issue on campus.
A two-week campaign could give inspired students running for positions the chance to convince people that they could make a difference, for students to find out what the candidates are really about and to reflect on what they care about voting for and for campus media to provide more (or, rather, some) coverage of the platforms. More time and heightened stakes would encourage students to spend time researching each candidate’s proposals and promises rather than relying upon peer endorsements.