Editor’s note: Editor in chief Danielle Ohl recused herself from the editorial board this week, as she reported on the news story about the rules violation.
During last year’s uncontested SGA election, The Diamondback editorial board admonished the student body’s lack of involvement in the school’s electoral process. The lack of dialogue and dissent underscored the ineffective student representation on this campus — a problem that has manifested differently this year.
The One Party, the Student Government Association’s establishment ticket consisting primarily of incumbents, was challenged by the Unity Party. But the Unity Party violated SGA election rules by accepting campaign services from Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit group that supported the ticket through donations in the form of logos and designs.
The Unity Party accepting these donations and failing to disclose them on its finance report violates SGA election rules, despite the fact that Turning Point did not contribute funds to the party. Finance regulations state that both accepting materials from organizations outside the SGA and failing to disclose them is a violation of campaign rules.
This editorial board would like to state the obvious: The Unity Party was wrong to violate campaign finance rules. The decision to accept support from Turning Point, a nonprofit that has been colluding with campaigns across campuses nationwide to elect conservative students into student government positions, and not disclose it displayed a lack of transparency with the student body. It undermines the democratic process meant to give students a voice on this campus. It has the potential to, once again, turn the SGA elections into a one-party show and rob students of an election focused on policy, progress and, most importantly, students.
This editorial board is not recommending the Unity Party recuse itself from this election. To do so would result in another uncontested race, leaving the student body without other options and potentially without a voice. The SGA’s elections board will likely investigate the campaign to determine whether this violation constitutes disqualification from the race. But in the meantime, the party must come forward and explain, in its own words, the extent of its involvement with Turning Point, barring excuses or empty justifications. Transparency allows the students to draw a line with their priorities, and should violating campaign rules be well beyond that line, the Unity Party will see punishment in defeat.
The SGA, without contested candidates, is not an accurate or democratic representation of the student body. Cycling through iterations of the same candidates discourages dissent and student involvement. Students have no incentive to vote when the party that always wins will likely win again.
Apathy is unacceptable, and though much of the onus remains on the student body to stay engaged, student government in general should be an arena for dissent and dialogue. Following campaign rules when challenging the established party is a good place to start.