With another Undergraduate Student Government election season underway, students will once again have the opportunity to elect the next generation of student leaders — leaders who will be tasked with serving the student body through their platforms, initiatives and resolutions.
But this year’s USG elections will feature important voices that have been absent from previous elections: current student government leaders themselves. Unlike past elections in which USG members were barred from supporting any presidential, vice presidential or senatorial candidate, this year’s election will be the first to allow USG members to publicly support those who they believe will best serve the student body. This amendment to USG’s election bylaws marks an important shift in the election process and the role USG members and endorsements play in ensuring that the best candidates get the recognition they deserve.
As student leaders, USG members have a responsibility to use their understanding of student government and the individuals working within it to make the best endorsements possible. These endorsements not only serve as a sign of support, but they can also give voice and recognition to candidates who might not otherwise have it — particularly those without traditional organizational ties often present in the student government community or those lacking visibility on campus due to any number of factors. Allowing those who best know the functions and needs of USG to voice their support for a particular candidate provides valuable information to student voters, who may otherwise only vote based on name recognition.
Last semester saw one of USG’s most engaged semesters, with students bringing forward resolutions addressing topics including diversity, mental health and college affordability. As the student body continues to address these pertinent issues, it is imperative that we have student leaders who are willing to champion campus causes that represent the entire student body. Endorsing diverse candidates who truly represent a cross-section of the campus community is vital to ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard.
Though endorsements from current USG members could create an election system that favors insiders, an endorsement is limited enough to still allow for a fair and equal election. Current members will still not be able to formally work on candidate’s campaigns, and the election process will otherwise be unchanged regarding rules for campaigning and the amount of coverage each candidate is allowed. An endorsement from a USG member simply offers more information to students trying to choose a candidate — if a voter believes a certain member of USG has done a good job, they can use that representative’s endorsement to point them toward a candidate they might otherwise overlook.
Just as student government leaders have a responsibility to use their experience to inform the student body of who they think will best serve our campus, we too recognize the important role we as a publication play. As the University’s only newspaper of record, we hold ourselves accountable for informing our readers and encouraging them to support candidates who will bring positive change to our student government. We look forward to getting to know each of the candidates over the course of this election season before coming to our decision. We hope our endorsement will serve as a starting point for students’ own research about who they believe is best fit to lead our campus next fall.
Daily Trojan Spring 2016 Editorial Board