There are several serious problems in the way BSG's current leadership approaches the concept of an election, including its refusal to release the numerical results of the election, and current President Hal Douglas '05's view of this paper's recent endorsement as "inappropriate."
Our repeated attempts to learn the numerical results of this week's election were met with a repeated mantra from BSG officers facilitating the electoral process: to release such numbers would jeopardize the feelings and self-esteem of those who lost. BSG has "an obligation," in the words of President Douglas, "to take care that all candidates who had the courage and creativity to run for office, particularly the ones who lost, do not feel further stigmatized." Fred Fedynyshyn '05 added that, given several candidates' reluctance to run for office over fears no one might vote for them, any action to "limit the candidate pool," such as releasing the actual election results, should be avoided.
But, given Fedynyshyn's logic, what kind of candidate pool would that give us? When competing in an election, candidates assume the risk of loss, including loss by a wide margin. The burden is on the candidates to prove why they shouldn't lose. If this very basic risk is too burdensome for a student, do we really want him or her to assume the task of speaking on behalf of the student body and proposing potentially controversial policies?
But none of this seems to matter to the BSG officers who supervised the election. They are more concerned with, in one officer's words, the "dignity" of those who ran for office and lost. Such arguments may work in high school student council, but colleges are in the business of preparing real leaders. True "dignity" in this case is found in how both victorious and defeated candidates accept the results, and seeking shelter in the sensitivity of BSG's policies is not the most dignified response. Nor is BSG's ignorance of the interest of the student body?its right to an open and transparent electoral process?dignified. Who does BSG truly represent?the student body, or merely its own?
This is, of course, nothing new with this year's BSG. Douglas's email announcing this week's election was followed by a post script more lengthy than the pertinent information regarding the election itself. Douglas deemed this page's endorsement of a candidate for BSG President "inappropriate." We cannot divine Douglas's ultimate motives in making these charges, but his contention that the student newspaper should not participate in the student government election is silly. The Orient has cast an investigative eye on BSG this year, and to remain silent during the election for next year's BSG would have been inconsistent. The prospect of disappointing the unendorsed candidate did not deter us from expressing our view of what is best for the student body.
We reject the attitude, clearly apparent from statements from some BSG leaders, that the ultimate arbiter of BSG's success is the self-esteem of its members. Rather, it is in its effective implementation of the will of the whole student body.