Posted on 28 March 2012.
The American Student Government Association is weighing in on the Butler University SGA’s refusal to publicly release its election results.
Butch Oxendine, the executive director of ASGA, said that the association advises its member institutions to release the data results of their elections.
“Student Government election results should be posted at all times, at all colleges and universities, including private institutions. Transparency is wise,” Oxendine said in a comment posted on collegemediamatters.com in response to a story about the Butler SGA’s decision.
Oxendine said ASGA is an advisory organization that trains student governments to be more effective.
Butler’s SGA is one of the 1,100 member institutions involved with ASGA. It was a founding member when ASGA began in 2003.
The College Media Matters story referenced that election numbers are not being released at Butler and raised the question of what the proper level of transparency is for student government elections.
The issue arose when The Collegian requested the data after the March election. The Election Oversight Committee and SGA president Al Carroll denied the request, but an SGA representative brought the issue up during assembly.
The assembly first voted 58-55 to publicly release the data.
The Monday following the vote, an SGA representative made a motion to reconsider.
At the next assembly, representatives voted again, and the result was to not release the data.
In an interview with The Collegian, Oxendine said that although private institutions have the authority to make their own decisions, a vast majority of them do release election results.
When presented with Oxendine’s comment from College Media Matters, Carroll said that, on a legislative level, he is impartial, but he personally believes it’s wrong to release this year’s results because candidates had no way of knowing a release could happen.
“On this issue, no amount of advising or public opinion would make me waiver in what I feel is a question of right versus wrong,” Carroll said.
Oxendine said that issues like this have come up at other colleges and universities, and he has found that the smaller the school is, the more likely it is to keep the results private.
“It’s really their prerogative to do what they want,” he said. “But Butler is definitely not the norm.”
SGA President-elect Mike Keller said the issue of releasing or not releasing results should be something SGA pursues and addresses before next year’s election.
“My goal is to work with the Election Oversight Committee and have a general review of election rules so that this issue is addressed earlier in the year,” Keller said.