The Judiciary Council Ruling
Issue   |   Wed, 04/23/2014 - 00:10

The current buzz on campus is predominantly regarding the controversial Judiciary Council ruling that was made after an election complaint that was filed on Thursday, April 10.

The complaint was to the effect that candidates had neared if not exceeded the budgetary limit for campaign materials. Ironically, the Judiciary Council was asked to look into the financial side of the matter without anyone vocalizing the fact that there is something wrong and unconstitutional about a victory based on two votes. To add to this irony, for a large subset of the student body, which is represented by the JC, this was the first time they had heard of its existence.

The current election cycle has been a graceful one, paved with strong platforms and innovative candidates. It is easy to see why the student body seemed so torn between our top two candidates (Amani Ahmed ’15 and Peter Crane ’15) to the point where the results of the run-off election hung in the balance of two sleepy heads at an equilibrium with their mattresses.

Wake up on the right side and the result could have easily gone the other way. Ahmed had some clearly defined points in her platform; she had the experience and passion to maximize support for her campaign. At the same time, Crane was innovative in his approach to student representation and was an equally competent candidate.
It suffices to say that our two run-off candidates were so equally matched that either way, the school would be in good hands. There is only one problem here. Nothing is equal or fair in politics, and the sole purpose of a run-off election is to make this distinction clear.

The future eight months of our school needs to be under the capable leadership of a candidate that will not be second-guessed at every turn because “the other candidate only lost by two votes and may have been a better choice after all.”
We need a student body that is definitively and by majority in support of the incumbent next year. What the Amherst Association of Students needs to do, then, is have another run-off election, focused on the two presidential candidates rather than the current run-off, which also included candidates running for vice- president. As a member of the voting public, you are aware of the personal preferences you had in the first round of open elections this year, whether they were just for the sole candidate running for treasurer or for one of the four candidates running for president. Regardless of the flavor of your preferential voting, many a voter was guilty of making one informed decision and then either playing eenie-meenie or asking a friend close by for whom else they should vote. We cannot let this kind of inaccuracy be ignored at our campus when considering results like these on a national scale would likely lead to more pensive action.

This is not to suggest that the JC does not know what they are doing or that the current winner of the run-off is undeserving. If in reading this article so far you feel that I have insinuated the above, then let me be intentional and curt: I have not. All I desire to relay to the student body is the fact that the leader of the student body needs to be elected on a more solid foundation than a two-vote difference for their own good. If the candidates did indeed legitimize their claim to the presidency amongst their supporters, then students will turn out to vote again.

The only difference this time is that all our elected representatives (senators) should make a concerted effort to make it clear to the student body that it is imperative that we make an informed decision and cast a vote for the future of our college.
Not enough weight is put on stressing the importance and the role of the student body president. Everyone seems to understand the importance of the president of the United States; it shouldn’t be hard to extrapolate this appreciation of leadership to the role of the student body president.

My goal here is not to attack a specific group or person. If anything, it is to bring to question our entire student body, especially those who actively participate in the politics of the school.

Does our role as students end at the ballot, or should it continue well into the term of office? Is it the responsibility of our elected representatives to guess what we need or is it our duty and right to convey our best interests to our liaisons with the administration? Finally, if the JC is acting constitutionally and rules based on an outcome that will prevent further controversy and unfairness, shouldn’t it be doing whatever it takes to make sure the result of the presidential election is more clear-cut than the flipping of a two-vote coin?

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