Our View: Hamilton Bloom for PresidentBy Our View | 03/11/2014 2:12am
Editor's Note: The Crimson White Editorial Board wrote an introduction to all SGA candidate endorsements. Read the introduction here.
For the position of President, the Editorial Board endorses Hamilton Bloom. Justin Thompson, Bloom’s opponent, deserves to be praised for his courage in running as an openly gay student. The diversity he brings through his background and perspective would serve the SGA well.
However, the Student Government Association’s highest office requires someone who can effectively manage the lower executive offices, work with Senate and, most importantly, effectively represent the student body. While we hold major reservations about an administration headed by Bloom and doubt his capability to advocate for student concerns in controversial issues, he is ultimately the stronger of the two candidates running for this office.
Both candidates’ records of involvement played a key role in our decision. Bloom identified several major SGA initiatives that he and his staff led from inception to implementation, such as the Know Your Rights project and the RecycleBama program.
When viewed in conjunction with his platform of prioritizing broad initiatives that affect the entire student body over targeted events and programs, and implementing a diversity caucus that, if properly staffed and empowered, has the potential to provide a much-needed view, we believe the SGA may become more relevant to the student body under Bloom.
Thompson’s experience in Senate lacks tangible policy results. In his interview, he was only able to point toward two failed SGA Senate resolutions, which were irrelevant to his campaign themes of Uniting, Engaging and Sustaining campus. Furthermore, the policy proposals that underpin each theme of his campaign do not address the issues they purport to mitigate. His proposal to reform the grounds use policy will do little to “unite campus,” and his proposed wait time app is not relevant to sustainability.
Our decision ultimately comes down to experience and efficacy, as neither candidate was able to convince us of their ability to address what we felt was the most important issue in this campaign: reforming the culture of disconnect that exists between the SGA and campus. As such, we could not endorse based upon the same rationale that has guided our endorsements in the past.
Bloom argued that the SGA should mainly facilitate dialogue and said he did not believe that the SGA’s role was to take stands on behalf of the student body, defending the SGA’s silence following the voter fraud and sorority segregation scandals that erupted last year. While the SGA can act as a mediator for dialogue, we believe the SGA President is elected to be the student voice and take action; refusing to take a public stand will do nothing to fulfill the SGA’s obligation of representing the student voice on this campus.
This reality is particularly clear on the injustice of segregation. The student body needed a public voice to match the courage of the minority women who rushed and the sorority members who spoke out. This advocate was not found in the SGA.
Bloom’s refusal to acknowledge his Machine backing leads us to conclude that he would not serve as a strong representative of students when called to action and likely would do nothing to engage the lack of transparency that has affected previous Machine-backed administrations.
However, Thompson also could not convince us he would be a unifying figure who could represent the student body as a strong leader capable of seeing projects through to fruition. Of his two pieces of legislation, both were divisive and one was presented solely to reprimand a member of the opposition. Further, Thompson was unable to present any ability to work with divergent views within the Senate.
Although being outside of the Machine and from an underrepresented community would provide a valued perspective, unity requires demonstrated leadership, open-mindedness and respect for opposing viewpoints.
None of these aspects were demonstrated by Thompson in his interview with us, his debates against Hamilton or his tenure in Senate. Supporting non-constructive legislation designed to attack and refusing to acknowledge specific examples of how the other side might have value is a recipe for disaster in a divided administration.
With this endorsement, we see Hamilton Bloom as an effective implementer of policy, a strong communicator and a collaborator of opposing ideas.
If elected, Bloom is obligated to ensure the lasting impact of diversity and integration efforts on campus, transparency within the SGA and communication and full representation of the student body. We expect him to give these issues as much attention and effort as his previous projects.
Our View represents the consensus of The Crimson White Editorial Board.