After much discussion among Student Government Association representatives in assembly last Wednesday, a resolution to release recent election data passed by a vote of 58-55.
It was a short-lived victory for proponents of transparent and open government.
Now, our voices appear not to matter much in the eyes of student government.
Yesterday, SGA president Al Carroll informed The Collegian that the data would not be released until further discussion could ensue in assembly.
We at The Collegian believe that since the SGA is entrusted with more than $700,000 of students’ money, the students who elect its new administration deserve to have the data which they created released back to them.
If top officials are just going to make decisions that contradict majority opinion, there really is no point in holding an election in the first place.
The logic that SGA officials have offered to The Collegian as a reason to keep the data private is elementary at best—SGA doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
This argument is moot and implies that college students can’t handle disappointment.
Candidates who apply for these positions need to have a thick enough skin to hear the truth.
It should be expected that presidential candidates enter this race knowing only one person will win and that they are opening themselves up to public scrutiny.
Instead of the presidential and class officer elections reflecting the entire student body as they should, they now appear to embody the vested interests of a few individuals.
Currently, only four people have access to the data—Carroll, an Information Technology web systems analyst, SGA adviser Caroline Huck-Watson and James Schubert, Election Oversight Committee chair.
Butler students need to demand transparency from their government, especially when there is limited oversight over the data.
The lack of transparency in SGA raises questions about its accountability and the proper way to run elections.
These are numbers that no one should have to ask for and no representative should have to pass a resolution to release.
After all, an election would not even be possible without the participation of the student population.
It is especially ridiculous that once the assembly decided to release the data by a majority, Carroll is rejecting the assembly members’ votes.
Before this policy reached SGA assembly, The Butler Collegian attempted to obtain the election results. Our efforts led to “no’s” from the Election Oversight Committee’s chair, Schubert, and Carroll because of a precedent and out of “respect for candidates.”
When we spoke to the candidates after learning about this precedent last week, all said they would welcome and appreciate the release of the election numbers.
Also, despite claims of respecting candidates, a more transparent election process would benefit all presidential candidates.
Runoff candidates Mike Keller and Kelsa Reynolds would have better known how to focus their campaigns if they possessed open access to election results to see how one fared against the other.
Sophomore candidates Katie Palmer and Josh Grant would have been able to better gauge their abilities to campaign next year once they knew their chances in future elections.
Yes, the final count being publicized could end up hurting a losing candidate’s feelings.
But it is in the best interest for the student body for its government to protect a majority vote than the feelings of a person who had signed up to spend $700,000 of our money.
SGA representatives, demand more out of your student government by requesting that your data be released today in assembly.
It doesn’t matter that Butler is a private institution.
Since we elect our student government president and this person spends our money, we deserve to know details of the vote count.
It is better for the students to be miffed over accurate election results than an unnecessarily secretive, nonrepresentative student government.