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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASUA’s blind spot: Its voters

In the April 5 edition of the Daily Wildcat, a letter from current Associate Students of the University of Arizona President Emily Fritze appeared. The letter responded to the overwhelmingly negative attention the Wildcat opinions board has paid to ASUA’s recent elections snafus. Fritze pointed out that the Wildcat, or at least its opinions section, has been covering the elections sideshow in lieu of paying attention to the positive and productive endeavors in which the ASUA is currently involved.

Yes, as of late the Wildcat, myself included, has been focusing on the gaping, shocking flaws in this semester’s ASUA presidential election. It’s juicy and keeps getting juicier, and everyone loves a scandal. Perhaps we have gotten too caught up in the election, and have overlooked ASUA’s other, legitimate activities.

But perhaps not.

Some of Fritze’s points, which are the points every ASUA insider seems to make when he or she feels the organization is under attack, insult the intelligence of ASUA’s student constituents. Even as the Elections Code is revealed to be almost useless and two would-be ASUA presidents and an elections commissioner behave badly, the response from ASUA is the perennial, “”If students only knew (or knew only) the positive things we do, they’d appreciate us and want to be involved.””

But I take issue with the notion that students, when examining ASUA, should separate the business of elections from the business of governance. The way a government carries out its election directly reflects how constituents can expect it to represent them. In this case, messily and poorly.

If elections aren’t transparent and are revealed to have been riddled with dishonesty, shady dealings and bias, how are students to believe that these issues don’t also plague the workings of the student government? The elections process is not a side dish to the main event of governing, but the most vital, interactive and necessary aspect of representative government. To try to separate elections from the administrations they usher in is to obscure the inextricable link between the two. If you can’t manage to have a fair election, you can’t claim to be doing anything else. It’s a matter of trust, and when your elections system is this flawed, you’ve lost that trust.

If students see that their votes don’t count, or only count when the elections commissioner decides they should, why should they trust the rest of the process? Students don’t have to care about ASUA; some choose to, and those who do should see that their efforts to engage are met with fairness and transparency. I’m sorry if this is a dirty secret, but they’re not.

In anything resembling a direct or representative democracy, you are your elections process. We’re not focusing on the minutia here; we’re focusing on the blood and guts of government.

The more ASUA tries to claim there’s no connection between poorly administered elections and an ineffectual government, the less students have a mandate to trust ASUA’s actions. The rest of us, those who voted and have been following this process all along, are waiting to hear something akin to an apology and an explanation for why things went so completely wrong in this election. Instead, we’re still getting a lot of excuses.

 

— Heather Price-Wright is the assistant arts editor of the Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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