Two weeks ago, for two hours during the Student Government presidential race, Abby Finn was barred from campaigning. Tim McBride had printed pro-Finn stickers to put on his car for an endorsement video, putting Abby over her Board of Elections-approved spending limit by $3. The BOE did not hesitate to immediately handcuff her campaign for 120 valuable minutes.
This is not a rarity. SG rule violations are now as common as TDR fork shortages. And it’s no wonder; the BOE campaign policy handbook is a 12-article, 42-section, 200-some-subsection bureaucratic behemoth. And that’s not counting the sub-sub-sections.
The Eagle does recognize the legitimacy of many of these rules.
Endorsement requirements for student organizations, for example, provide a necessary obstacle to favoritism and help make election opportunities more egalitarian for those without previous connections.
Financial restrictions and last year’s lowering of the presidential spending limit also help ensure that candidate wealth disparities do not influence the course of the race. Even Finn’s incident, though it seems a triviality concerning a minuscule amount of money, is justified in principle: If one does not draw the line concretely at an exact value, a precedent of leniency is set and overspending may become more common when candidates realized they will not be punished for small violations.
However, The Eagle believes that the sheer mass of red tape in the SG handbook might do more to prevent participation in the organization than to regulate participants already involved. Much of the same bureaucracy that purports to create fairness among the candidates has the adverse effect of reducing the number and diversity of those entering the race in the first place.
Furthermore, by sealing the doors to SG tightly, BOE bureaucrats run the risk of compounding student apathy toward the organization. If it is impenetrable from the outset, why be concerned with its day-to-day operations?
In the romanticized version of Sparta, a group of five fairly-elected elders called Ephors, each with an equal vote, made fair and reasoned decisions to check the power of the king from their council on a hill. In reality, the Ephors were inaccessible, corrupt and power-hungry, sitting atop a mountain of Greek power.
Student Government is no Greek oligarchy, but we should be cognizant of how its internal rules affect external access to it — lest the Olympus of supposedly equalizing bureaucracy become a peak not even Leonidas could scale. ≠ E