Once again, Wellesley College finds itself in the midst of another College Government (CG) election. In the past week, you have been accosted with countless emails with aggressively friendly invitations for lunch chats, buzzwords about ‘experience’ and ‘commitment’ and maybe even a fun, quirky video about a candidate. How exhausting — both for candidates and us voters. That said, I do want to add a little more to your CG plate. In the next couple of days, I humbly ask that we voters take the same care, consideration and especially critical lens we bring to every other aspect of our lives to the crafted messages on which our peers are pinning their hopes of election.
This year is different, especially perhaps in comparison to the debacle of last year’s first election. At the time of this writing, no Elections Committee violations have been filed and no one campaign is drawing any sort of unwanted attention. That, however, does not mean we can afford complacency in this election cycle. It means that not only must we be more critical, but we must also be more vocal in our criticisms, reflecting more comprehensively on each candidate’s past, as we can only surmise from their campaign materials what will happen in the future.
During my time at Wellesley, I’ve noticed a reticence when discussing contrarian views. Rather than confront the source of the issue, we resort to anonymous forums and private murmurs to express our displeasure about everything both occasionally and systematically wrong with and at Wellesley. CG and its elections are not absolved of this problem and all of its myriad implications. In fact, perhaps it is during the election cycle in which it is at its worst. We take at face value the lovely promises our campaigners write, regardless of if we know them and their history. This is dangerously complacent, and we must break that tradition this year.
As this year we are voting for the first CG cabinet that will be paid, it is especially crucial to hold our candidates to a much harsher light, and even more so important to talk to the candidates along with the Wellesley community about our concerns. Last year’s first round, for the spectacle that it was, represented an aspect of student government campaigning atypical at Wellesley, wherein students discussed not just the good candidates could bring, but also, more importantly, where candidates substantially lacked as a representative of the student body.
We must move away from considering CG candidates as merely students. The decision to run must come with every good, bad and ugly thing that we expect to see in election cycles, maybe perhaps not to the same extent as national elections, just a lighter Wellesley version of it. Even so, as public figures soliciting your votes, these candidates should be subject to a firm and fair evaluation in all sense of the word, including criticisms of their history, actions and especially character.
This is perhaps high hopes to motivate adequate due diligence to this campaign on a community of tired, overburdened college students. High hopes especially to implore you to engage in possibly uncomfortable conversations about a candidate’s questionable qualifications or past behavior. But the very least we voters can do is, shockingly, vote. Voter turnout from last year’s elections, including for special elections, was less than 50 percent of total eligible voters. It is impossible to elect a CG cabinet that we view as properly representative of the community’s desires if only a mere fraction of the community expresses their opinion.
To claim to be the best representative of their peers, especially in positions that will have direct impact on our lives, is a lofty assertion. It is our job as voters to discuss amongst ourselves who truly deserves a seat on the cabinet and the soon enacted salary figures. Before you vote, think about who you want in those positions. Think, for example, which CG President candidate would act as the best liaison between the student body and the administration? Which Chief Justice candidate has the best in mind for students facing the Honor Code Council?
Long emails with as-of-now empty promises does not give students the best idea of who they want in their cabinet. Criticism and questioning does. As our candidates work to gain our votes, we must ensure that our endorsements and votes are not as easy to come by as in past elections. I write this as someone distinctly critical of CG, and as someone whose experience on The Wellesley News has led me to cross paths professionally with many of the candidates prior to their campaigning. I’ve got a pretty clear idea of who I want in my cabinet, and you should too. Above all else, remember that your vote overwhelmingly counts. So don’t ignore that ballot when it graces your inbox next Tuesday.