The presidential elections for SGA this year cannot really be considered one. Evan Gillon and Ayo Aladesanmi are running uncontested for the position of president and vice president respectively, and so find themselves in an unusual situation. Elections are meant to provide students with an avenue to give power to who they believe best represents their interests, but the lack of candidates this year mean that students are left without even an illusion of choice. Evan and Ayo are going to have to step up to actively represent the interests of the student body, instead of smaller interest groups.
At face value, that itself presents a challenge: both are male, Greek, Ivan Allen College students and part of the same fraternity. Both even attended the same high school. They are representative of a small fraction of the student body, an issue that SGA’s Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) also suffers from. In some ways, much of the student body would have a right to feel alienated or unaware of what SGA does and the power they have, which could be partly to blame for the lack of candidates for presidential and representative elections.
They may reach out to students during campaign season, but once it is over, most departments and schools do not hear from their reps. Many students are unaware of who their representatives are, or what they do in UHR. Open forum at UHR, during which students are allowed to come in and talk, generally sees low attendance. It is important that — especially as uncontested candidates — Gillon and Aladesanmi address these issues. Although a part of their platform discusses this and considers ways to “empower students,” they have held considerable power in SGA in the past, and little has changed in terms of getting students involved. The House is disproportionately Greek, and so it also falls on the new executive to ensure they fill their cabinet with students from other backgrounds.
Their platform itself, although seemingly realistic, is also brief and vague. That makes sense if there are multiple candidates and students wish to compare big-picture ideas side-by-side to choose the candidate that represents their interests best. However, running unopposed means their platform needs to be expounded. Since their ascension is inevitable, the campus community should know more about what is currently being planned for.
Gillon and Aladesanmi’s continued efforts to reach out to students during this campaign season and their goals of bridging communication between students organizations and the SGA is admirable. Despite the fact that the presidential elections are uncontested, the broader goals of their platform are generally decent ideas and ones certainly that we can get behind.
However, we also believe that as the sole candidates, they do need to ensure that they are still able to better include the campus community during the election process, and continue doing so with regards to the SGA after they are elected. Creating a student body that is aware of SGA’s presence and actions on campus is the first step towards fostering a truly more inclusive community.