Editorial: ASG constitutional amendment brings opportunity for improved government, eliminates excuses for election engagement

This year, Associate Student Government will only have two student-body elected positions on its executive board: president and vice president.

An ASG selection committee will now appoint academic and student life vice presidents, whose candidates were once on the same ballot as the president and vice president. Disappointingly, though to no surprise, ASG officials have said voter turnout was lackluster for these less visible roles, so for the 2013 elections, ASG made it mandatory to vote for each elected position in order to submit the ballot. However, the resolution of one problem spawned yet another, and it is suspected that voters selected academic and student life VP candidates at random, caring only to think about their votes for president and vice president. ASG’s move is understandable, but has already sparked some debate.

However, despite the ongoing discussion concerning the decision and our student government’s ability to effect change on campus, some even occurring within pages of The Daily, many students remain apathetic, either unaware of the changes, aloof to what they entail or disillusioned with ASG from the beginning. Though it is unlikely the recent changes to the electoral process will do much to fundamentally alter the nature or mission of ASG, The Daily believes the changes are noteworthy and welcome.

Harkening back to the words of Winston Churchill, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” We would all do well to remember student governments follow the same maxim. Certainly, ASG may never be everything that the student body desires of it.

Yet, if the recent changes are at all effective, we will have an academic VP and a student life VP appointed on the basis of diligence, service and competency, rather than selected by the whims of impatient voters. We will have a form of government that is at least marginally better than those we have tried from time to time in the past. Even for those who deem ASG ineffective or ultimately powerless, a small step in the right direction is better than no step in the right direction. For those who have higher hopes, this change may prove to be the beginning of a more responsive, more active and more effective student government.

Furthermore, implicit within these changes is another glimmer of optimism for a better future.

Frustration and anger with ASG may appear inevitable and understandable, and many students are quick to write off the organization as unnecessary, ineffective and unworthy of their time. By simplifying the voting process so that students will be making one, and only one, choice each election cycle — which presidential ticket they support — ASG has made it so painless to participate in the political process that ignorance or perceived difficulty is no longer an excuse. The roles of academic VP and student life VP may have been unclear to many and their platforms were often difficult to distinguish from each other, but those of president and vice president are far more salient. For students, this has all but eliminated any possible barrier to entry into the political process. If students choose to remain aloof and unconcerned with the results of ASG’s elections, the consequences of that decision are on them.

Ultimately, the effects of making the academic VP and the student life VP appointed rather than elected will only be revealed with time. The change may fail to do anything at all; it may even create further problems. The art of governance — be it at the level of a nation, a city or a college campus — is a delicate one. Although the future may be indeterminate, we believe there is reason to look forward to what it has in store.