Promotional material bearing a hyphenated pair of last names typically appears across Texas State each year in the days that close March and begin April. Every year when election season rolls around, signs and posters promoting the various Associate Student Government hopefuls vying for senatorial, vice presidential or presidential positions appear on every free square inch of space on campus. seemingly overnight.
The days leading up to student government elections this year, however, have been tame in comparison to previous years, and promotional materials have largely been missing from the campus landscape. This is likely due to a recent change by the Election Commission that no longer allows candidates to run on tickets.
ASG elections rarely impact the average Texas State student — only three percent of the student body voted in last year’s race, even with a referendum that increased the student bus fee on the ballot. That being said, while most students clearly give little thought to voting in ASG elections, no longer allowing candidates to run on ballots is a smart move that will hopefully legitimize the process and organization as a whole.
Before the rule change, senator hopefuls were able to run on a ticket. This often meant that if the president-vice president pair they ran under won the election, they would likely earn a spot on the senate as well since the average student typically votes a straight ticket. Now, everyone is on their own when it comes to campaigning, preventing students vying for senator positions from sitting back and letting a ticket’s staff handle all of the marketing and promotions.
Without the support of a ticket, individual candidates will have to be evaluated and elected on their own merits, which is critical considering that senators draft proposals and resolutions that could eventually be passed and enacted by administrators.
In a March 19 University Star article, current ASG President Vanessa Cortez said she believes more students will want to run for senate positions under the new election process and the elimination of tickets will help the “underdogs” who do not have the backing of a ticket. One would hope that only students who are passionate and serious about improving Texas State are running for senate positions, but the editorial board hopes the change to the election process will ensure that no lackluster candidates slip through the cracks and onto the senate.
To be frank, ASG elections have evolved into little more than a glorified popularity contest over the years. Whichever ticket had the most signage, most recognizable names and largest student organizations (often Greek) voting for them were naturally more likely to be elected. While candidates have run for executive positions on their own in the past (Kurt Fulkerson and Maxfield Baker for president and vice president, respectively, in spring 2012), their campaigns were typically unsuccessful. The elimination of tickets will even the playing field and make the process more selective and competitive.
It is encouraging that ASG recognized the need for change in regard to the election process. It is now up to students to take the change in stride and run with it. Now is the chance for students to thoroughly evaluate individual candidates and determine by whom they want to be represented.