There was only one team of candidates running for the positions of UGBC president and executive vice president when the registration period closed last Thursday, according to an email that the Elections Committee (EC) sent out to the entire student body on Monday. This is highly unusual and has not occurred for any election in recent years. The EC has confirmed that at least one other team has registered since the application process reopened, which is a good sign, as an uncontested election would not have been in the best interest of either UGBC or the student body that it serves.
In a democratic process, there are several reasons why an uncontested election is problematic. Competition forces teams to stay honest and work harder on developing their platforms. Many times, a platform point that one team develops is adopted by other teams who also like the idea. The elections season is an important facet of student life at BC and, without a real competition, there would be little incentive for the one team in the running to take it seriously. By knocking on countless doors, canvassing numerous students, and partaking in active debates, those running for office get a real sense of the pulse of the University and what concerns today’s student body.
The conversation between candidates and the student body is especially important for freshmen, as it affects how they perceive both BC and its student government. This is particularly important because of each student’s limited time at BC-a poor showing by UGBC during one’s freshmen year can lead to greater apathy towards the organization later, which would only serve to further weaken UGBC down the road.
Given that there has already been a response by the student body in the form of at least one more team registering, it is clear that the EC made the right decision to reopen the process. At the same time, however, it is disheartening that they had to extend the deadline in the first place, as it reflects a lack of interest from the student body. In moving up the election season from last year, the EC attempted to correct for the problems that arose last spring when the newly elected team did not have the time to manage the transition before the semester ended. Unfortunately, it looks like the EC may have overcorrected by moving the deadline to declare candidacy to the very beginning of the spring semester. If a potentially interested student was not following UGBC closely last semester, it may have been difficult to organize, as the revised deadline was not widely publicized.
In the future, the EC will need to reconsider the timing of both the elections season and the information sessions that they hold in order to encourage greater participation.