3/28 EdBoard: Our Take on the Student Government Elections
Ahead of the Carnegie Mellon Student Government General Elections that will be open this week (make sure you vote!), candidates have been trying to communicate their platforms to their constituents, the student population of Carnegie Mellon. However, the path to becoming Student Body President/Vice President (SBP/SBVP) or Student Body Vice President of Organizations (SBVPO) is lined with (almost) empty promises and bordered by misinformation.
At both the SBP/SBVP and SBVPO debates, candidates frequently returned to Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS). One set of candidates at the SBP debate discussed CaPS not having the resources to accommodate all the students who need them while wanting to make students more aware of what CaPS offers. It sounds great in theory to promote CaPS to the student body, and yes, CaPS struggles to keep up with student demand. These statements are agreeable, but realistically, they function as buzzwords and nothing else with the act of promoting CaPS directly contributing to its backlog.
During the SBVPO debate, candidates promoted moving CaPS into a separate location using their power as SBVPO. Firstly, that’s already happening as part of the construction of Highmark Center for Health, Wellness, and Athletics. Secondly, that’s completely out of the power of SBVPO. The SBVPO focuses on the recognition/re-recognition process for organizations and space allocations, not solving the mental health crisis at Carnegie Mellon.
This point highlights that some, if not all, candidates are out of touch with what the position they are running for actually entails. While these positions can act as advocates for the student body and organizations, in actuality, they don’t have much power to actually enact change. It may be nice for organizations to receive 150% more funding, but that’s not within the jurisdiction of the SBVPO. If voters are just taking statements like this at face value, yeah, sounds great! They got our vote! But unfortunately, due to the powers that candidates actually receive if elected, this is nothing but a pipe dream.
Additionally, while it would be phenomenal to raise the minimum wage for student workers to $15 an hour, that also seems like nothing more than a pipe dream. Increasing wages was a main talking point of the current SBP campaign, and the previous SBP. The promises from past campaigns that have gone unfulfilled make it seem like we are destined to go another year at $8.25 an hour unless the Carnegie Mellon administration independently has a change of heart and decides to raise student minimum wage.
This also ignores that many of the candidates in the running for these positions have little experience student government. When asked at the SBVPO debate if the candidates had attended a Senate or Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) meeting, the short answer was a hesitant no. Though some had interactions with the Senate or GSA, it didn’t seem like they actually went to the meetings of the representatives of the Carnegie Mellon student body. Additionally, neither of the SBP/SBVP pairs made an effort to reach out to the Senate chair or GSA President to discuss their platforms. It would make sense if candidates reached out to representatives of the student body to get a formal sense of who their constituents are, right?
It’s disappointing that making empty promises is the status quo for those running for student body leadership positions. In an ideal world, leadership would accomplish all of the goals that we’ve been hearing about during this campaign season. However, it seems like it will be another year of students not knowing what the student government actually does and who they are until the next election season rolls around.
In the end, no one really expects a perfect campaign from those running for student leadership. We’re all students with a large amount on our plates, and in a perfect world, the candidates would be able to deliver on all their promises. The sad reality is that we’re being delivered empty promises sprinkled with misinformation that will leave us unsatisfied. By next spring, the campus will be filled with the same question: “What does the student government actually do for students?”