Editorial: 2018 A.S. elections short on choice and change

by The Editorial Board

The issue: Most of the Executive Officer seats up for grabs in the impending Associated Students election only have one candidate running.

Our take: Students need to step up and get involved. A student government in which the most powerful seats are not competitive undermines the legitimacy of the election and student government.

Associated Students elections are a time when students are able to stand up and not only voice their opinions, but also put representatives in place who will have a direct impact on the university. It is a time for hope and potential change. This year’s election, however, while big on hope, offers little in the way of change.

Three of the five executive board positions — 60 percent of them, including A.S. President — have candidates running unopposed.
An election with no choices is not an election — it’s a coronation.

Why didn’t anyone step in to challenge the status quo?

Critics complain the Greek community has a hold of A.S. That might be true, but it will not change without people willing to stand up, step up and run.

The current presidential candidate, Chris Thomas, was once a member of Phi Kappa Theta, a fraternity permanently booted from campus for repeated alcohol violations.
Otherwise, Thomas’ performance as V.P. of University Affairs has been exemplary. He could be the best possible choice, but the students of SDSU will never know, because he won’t be put to the test. He won’t have to face the challenges of competing against other candidates.

It is not Thomas’ fault he’s running unopposed, but without having to best a field of contenders, his inevitable win loses some gloss, and could provide fodder for critics to undermine his term.  Any mistakes will be scrutinized more harshly than other presidents.

With so many unopposed executive seats, it’s not just Thomas’ legitimacy that’s threatened, but the entire student government. It’s going to take a Herculean effort to motivate an already apathetic electorate, and, without options, this year could set record lows in voter turnout.

So who is at fault?

To their credit, A.S. does a lot to encourage involvement. Their calendar is chock full of events and there are numerous opportunities to get involved. It’s not fair to blame the organization or this year’s executive board.

If there’s anyone to blame for this year’s dearth of candidates, it’s the student government’s staunchest critics.

Last year, when the mascot resolution failed, several members of A.S. walked out and quit.

The example of quitting when things went another way set a toxic precedent, one that says important issues are not worth fighting for. The students of this university deserve representatives who will fight. Where are the fighters?

The Daily Aztec calls on the student body to take control of its government. Make the competition fair. At least make it a competition.

It’s not too late.

Write-in applications are due in A.S. on Friday, March 16. We call on anyone with a gripe about student government, A.S. or administration in general to stand up and sign up. Give voters a reason to vote. Give them an option.