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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ASUA elections a popularity contest

    The way things are now we might as well not have ASUA elections.

    Campaign platforms range from realistic to horrific. Some candidates have legitimate experience; others do not. Some candidates have more knowledge than others. But really the only things that matter are which organizations a candidate is in and how many friends he or she has.

    Nothing supports that conclusion more than the results of last week’s primary election.

    The race for president put Erin Hertzog (Alpha Phi) up against Matt Van Horn (Alpha Epsilon Pi) and Ryan Montana Erickson (a whole lot of campaigning on the UA Mall). The results? Hertzog won in a landslide followed by Van Horn, and for the second year in a row, one of the most qualified candidates was out in the primary.

    Last year, of course, saw the best presidential candidate, Nathan Bell, ousted by Jacob Reuben (Alpha Epsilon Pi and Chain Gang) and Cade Bernsen (Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity and a Texas chapter of FIJI).

    This year’s primary race for administrative vice president saw Jami Reinsch (Alpha Phi) get 44 percent of the vote, 15 percent more than runner-up Ty Reece (Phi Delta Theta), despite her completely bogus plan to provide free legal representation for all students.

    For executive vice president, Rhonda Tubbs (Arizona Ambassadors) beat out David Reece and Patrick Cook (both in religious organizations) and unknown Michelle Gregory.

    Voting for the senate followed the same trend, though all of the candidates advanced past the primary. The top three finishers came from Sigma Kappa, Chi Omega and Delta Delta Delta. Going down the results list from top to bottom shows the number and size of organizations getting smaller and smaller.

    Campaign platforms range from realistic to horrific … but
    really the only things that matter are which organizations a candidate is in and how many friends he or she has.

    But it’s not just the organizations a candidate is in that matters; it’s also the number of friends that person has. A quick glance at the highly scientific Facebook.com shows the results are closely aligned with the number of friends each candidate has. The average for executive candidates who advanced and top-10 senate candidates: 334. The average for those who didn’t advance or finished below 10th: 214.

    We certainly shouldn’t be surprised by these results. After all, aren’t larger elections determined by popularity too? National and state elections involve incredible amounts of maneuvering between organizations. At least in ASUA we don’t have to deal with political parties.

    And we certainly can’t blame the organizations, because organizations want their people in power to help them get more club funding.

    Perhaps recognizing the problem, one candidate, an ASUA veteran, is campaigning on a lack of equity in club funding. He’ll have a chance to better explain what that means as the campaign goes on, but it sounds like some clubs are getting more than their share of the pot.

    And it’s not just big clubs: One powerful group, the junior honorary Chain Gang, has about 30 members, but is usually represented by multiple ASUA officials, such as current administrative vice president Cassiopeia Sonn.

    Of course, clubs and popularity aren’t the sole deciding factors. Kelsey Hawes is in the biggest sorority on campus, Chi Omega, and still will not become a senator if she comes in 11th, as she did in the primary. Likewise, the popularity model would have predicated that Pita Salido, a candidate for administrative vice president with long-standing ties to service fraternities, honoraries and the Residence Hall Association, would advance to the general election. And there are examples of senatorial candidates in the top 10 who aren’t part of big clubs. Perhaps there’s hope yet.

    So what is the average voter to do? Recognize that ASUA is not truly representative of the entire student body. It is far more representative of the large and aggressive organizations on campus – the Chain Gangs, the social fraternities and sororities and the service fraternities in the vein of Alpha Phi Omega.

    Moreover, voters should actually listen to what candidates say and read the platforms. If that were to happen, we might actually have a shot at changing the popularity game.


    Ryan Johnson is a senior majoring in economics and international studies. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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