Note: This is the original draft of this editorial.
Well, student election season has once again passed NMHU. As usual, candidates were out in full force, plastering flyers on every wall, and soliciting students and faculty with candy with “Vote for Me” stickers. Now, as a teacher, I’m all for seeing students put a little effort into campus activities. So I thought I’d entertain one senator running for office.
“Vote for Me” he said, extending a hand to shake, not knowing I’m no longer a student.
“Okay, what’s your platform? What do you plan to do in office?”
“Um…well…I’m going to make decisions that will benefit Highlands!”
Well, I hardly expect him (or his challenger) to make decisions that would hurt the university. I didn’t say that, but it brought into stark realization what his expectations were regarding why he wanted the student body to vote for him: popularity. He was out there, meeting students, giving them candy, a handshake, and a name he hoped the candy and handshake would help them remember come voting day.
And I realized he wasn’t the only one with such expectations. Not a single flyer I saw put up on campus made any mention of what the candidates planned to bring to student senate. Some of them had only the candidates’ names, and most of those only had a first name. But they all had a picture. Yep, the ASNMHU senate elections have become a popularity contest—our own version of American Idol.
The way I see it, these candidates are making one of three statements: 1) The general student body is too unintelligent to think about who would be best suited to represent them; 2) The candidates are too unintelligent to think that being on student senate comes with a certain amount of responsibility concerning the decisions they’re going to have to make; 3) Both the candidates and the general student body are unintelligent, but the rest of the university is okay with that.
Case in point: I walked by the flyer of one senator running for office and recognized him. Just four months ago, he’d been censured—indeed, almost impeached—for, essentially stealing from a high school whose students were touring NMHU. I laughed, thinking to myself, “There’s no way he’ll be voted in!” And of course, he won his seat. Really, Highlands? You’re okay with that? That’s who you want to be in office when/if any students from that high school come to our university? “Hey, don’t worry about stealing on campus! You can still be an ASNMHU officer!”
Of course, I’m not suggesting that all of the new student senate positions are currently filled by senators voted in only for their popularity. In fact, I like to think that it’s no coincidence that more than a couple of those senators are past or current students of mine. But I am bothered by those who recommended that that officer’s impeachment be lessened to a censure (essentially a slap on the wrist and strong warning not to do it again). I’m bothered the senate has no stipulation disallowing censured senators from running for office. I’m bothered that new candidates don’t seem to hold the position in high enough regards as to even put their full name on their candidacy flyers. But mostly I’m bothered by the apathy the university has towards all this—the students who fell for the popularity ploy and the ones who didn’t even vote. Come one, Highlands; we’re better than this. Let’s try to show it next year.