History repeats in USG
Published: Monday, April 21, 2008
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
As many of you are aware, the disqualified presidential team of Peter Koltak and Amanda Graver was not only reinstated, but prevailed in the Undergraduate Student Government elections.
This marks the third straight year that a winning team was disqualified and then reinstated prior to being elected. Last year, the Kate Christobek and Pete Steele team was disqualified for posting dozens of illegal fliers, and two years ago, the Fournier/Christobek and Knapp/Gent teams were ousted for violations similar to those alleged against Koltak/Graver. Regardless of the validity of the allegations, this election has uncovered some larger issues that need to be addressed, both by Ohio State and its students.
First, candidates need to realize that campaigning to a point that risks disqualification is unnecessary. Does anyone really think the advantage Koltak/Graver gained from their extra shirts made the difference in the election? Of course not; USG elections are won and lost because of the greek vote, a single-issue and easily mobilized bloc. It's no coincidence that the last three winning presidential teams featured a member of either Sigma Phi Epsilon or Kappa Alpha Theta, two of the largest and most visible greek organizations on campus. The risk Koltak/Graver took with their campaign tactics was simply not worth it.
Secondly, the university needs to understand that by reinstating disqualified teams it not only subverts the election process, but it provides candidates with an incentive to cheat. It is a well-known fact that no disqualification has ever been upheld by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs, and presidential teams are beginning to realize that if they get caught campaigning in the gray area, they can count on OSU for a bailout (especially if they can get actual attorneys to argue their appeal, as was the case this year). If Student Affairs refuses to make an example of cheating candidates, it weakens the Election Governance Board Judicial Panel, a student-led body created specifically to deal with violations. In addition, it promotes an anything-goes campaign mentality.
Finally, the installation of suspected cheaters to the two most visible undergraduate leadership positions weakens trust in USG as a whole. If anyone wonders why initiatives that aim to eliminate USG are created, they need look no further than its elections. The current situation penalizes candidates who play by the rules, while those who cheat can jump right through a loophole and into the presidency. As far as the average undergraduate is concerned, it's politics as usual. When USG looks to the student body for involvement their pleas will fall on deaf ears, because no one wants to support an organization that substitutes crafty campaigning and well-spun rhetoric for fiscal responsibility and integrity.
Christopher Battles is a senior in economics and political science. He is not a member of any campaign team but has worked for campaigns in the past. He can be reached at email@example.com.