SA president, VP's comments on election are ill-timed, unprofessional

On March 25, 2014

Two-thirds of the current Student Association executive board attempted to sway the SA election with a message released Monday.

The night before polls opened, SA President Sam McMahon and Vice President Judy Mai sent the SA club listserv a message de facto endorsing some SA candidate platforms while opposing others.

The email breaks down a selective list of each party's proposals and gives an "objective" comment on the plausibility of each. Though the document begins by claiming the statements on the proposals will be objective and are not endorsements, the truth runs contrary to both of those claims.

 Though denigrating to both platforms, the criticisms are clearly more biased against the Value Party's proposals. With both stronger language and more negative responses overall toward the selected list of Value's proposals, any reader would finish with the impression that the Impact Party has more plausible ideas.

 The current SA president and vice president should not be taking such an opinionated stance or capitalizing on their positions of influence to sway voters; it's unprofessional. Informing SA club members about the election and providing links to debates or platforms alone would have been commendable and appropriate.

Interjecting with opinions on the platforms to a captive audience is not.

Uncalled for, poorly timed and a general misuse of power, the letter is deplorable for the timing and manner in which it was released more than for its content.

The letter was sent out just one day before polls opened. Releasing such an influential document to so active a constituency that close to the election is problematic itself.

The short timeframe also disallowed any form of rebuttal from candidates. Though the proposals cited were fairly extensive, they were hardly exhaustive. The candidates could have addressed some of McMahon and Mai's concerns if the candidates were given time and an appropriate platform to respond to those criticisms.

The obvious question, given that the proposals have been available for weeks, is: Why wasn't this message sent out earlier? Such a common-sense move would have given the candidates time to flesh out propositions and respond to concerns.

One day - with Spring Break immediately preceding this election - is simply an inexcusable timeframe for this message. It precludes discussion and causes an undue influence on voters.

McMahon and Mai sent this email to the SA club listserv. Though this reaches a wide audience of voters, it is far from public, further reducing the practicality and possibility of public discourse. The opinions of the current administration went out to SA clubs both unopposed and without room for discussion, from candidates or from anyone else.

A semi-private letter was simply not the appropriate forum for this type of message.

Though this may not rise to the level of reprehensible abuse of power, it is unbecoming of the current leaders of a student organization with an image problem. Both McMahon and Mai should be more concerned with leaving a positive legacy behind for the incoming SA administration, whomever they may be, than shifting election results.

The email, the time it was released and the way it was sent all leave the door open for potential mischaracterizations, or even simple misunderstandings, of proposals.

 

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com


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