Who will take UA's 2016 SGA?By Meghan Dorn | 01/28/2016 8:57am
CW | Amy Sullivan
What’s the thrill that keeps this campus buzzing after they put the National Championship trophy safely in its case? It’s the oncoming political showdown of student government elections, of course. A period of Facebook profile pictures changing and candidate endorsements and people asking, “Well are they backed by The Machine?” This year’s election I suspect will be one of the most interesting in my four years at The University of Alabama, because there are so many questions to be answered after the Spillers election shook up the political routine last year.
What does the Spillers administration mean for this year’s campus campaign cycle? Will the SGA executive board go back to being completely dominated by Machine backed candidates? Or will Independents continue to grab key seats?
Ultimately what I believe the Spillers administration showed us is that the power of the University really is in the hands of students who care. One person really can make a difference, and that person really can be you if you’re willing to put in the work and go for it. It also showed how important it was to get information out to the entire campus and get more student groups involved as student voter turnout skyrocketed with the Keller v. Spillers election. Spillers showed the campus the simple fact that every vote does matter as he claimed the Presidency. The Machine is not the unstoppable monster under the bed anymore – and while it does still have a strong influence on campus politics – we have seen now it can be defeated when students from all walks of life come together.
I believe this precedent will lead to the rise of many more independent candidates in this year’s SGA elections, as it should. We need more people to take an active role in campus politics, and one of the best ways to do that is to run for office. Senate elections especially deserve more truly competitive elections between independents and Machine candidates to make sure college interests are best represented and new ideas are brought forward in this influential body.
For independent candidates pursuing executive positions though, I advise strategy over pride. There are only so many students who actively vote in SGA elections, and if too many independent candidates run for the same executive position, the vote will be split too thin and will lead to a Machine backed candidate taking the seat.
I would also like to say that a Machine backed candidate getting elected is not always the end of the world. I know suggesting that a Machine backed candidate can actually get some good done in SGA is a cardinal sin in certain circles. But some great initiatives and programming on this campus has been spearheaded by hardworking greeks, who happened to also be Machine-backed. In no way am I a fan of voter coercion, harassing people who disagree with you, suppressing female candidates and any of the other awful actions of The Machine; I merely write this to defend some of the hardworking SGA officers who I believe get unnecessarily villainized by their associations. Be sure when casting your vote that you consider the actual candidate’s platform and initiatives, and not just their presumed background, for both sides of the aisle.
In the ever-raging battle against The Machine, I hope students have a good memory and remember last year’s SGA elections – and that the University is not a campus made up of solely greek students who hold all the political positions. Anyone who is interested in making a difference in their college or on campus as a whole should pursue office or work as a director and get to work at bettering the capstone.
Students seeking a Student Government Association executive position or senate seat for Spring Semester 2016 can access the link to the Statement of Candidacy and Intent here; applications are due Feb. 4 at 6 p.m.
Meghan Dorn is a senior majoring in political science and public relations. Her column runs weekly.