With the Student Government Association Senate elections just around the corner and presidential candidates Sam Dike and Kelli Harper running contested, one would expect an impending full-fledged debate. Unfortunately for students, this isn’t the case.
Harper declined to participate in the debate, which The Daily Cougar was willing to sponsor, slated for next week before the elections. Because of school, work, involvement in other campus organizations and her commute, she would not be able to prepare for the debate, she told The Daily Cougar in an e-mail.
Although presidential candidates are not required to participate in formal debate before elections, they are an invaluable opportunity for students to become more knowledgeable about the presidential hopefuls and their views on the most pressing issues facing the student body. Forestalling the debates makes students that much less informed when electing the would-be student leaders of the University.
In order for students to cast an educated vote, the potential student leaders must make their positions known on some of the major issues targeting students. The SGA Senate serves a vital role in not only representing student interests to UH decision-makers, but also by appointing student representatives to some of the more powerful committees on campus, such as the Tuition and Fees Review Committee, the Student Fees Advisory Committee and the Food Service Advisory Committee.
Students need to know presidential candidates’ stances on issues such as PeopleSoft 8.9 glitches, the rising cost of tuition, the allocation of student fees and even the diversity of campus eateries.
The Daily Cougar is glad to see more students strengthen democracy at the University by becoming involved in SGA and ending what was once a trend of student candidates running unopposed in the elections. With the increase in students vying for positions in this semester’s election, however, we would hope the candidates would be more eager to inform students of their platforms and ideas for the coming semester.
While Harper and her vice presidential candidate Judah Johns are investigating other avenues to market their campaigns, the only forums or rallies publicized to The Daily Cougar are the debates for the seven College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences positions, which will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday in the University Center, World Affairs Lounge. By not participating in formal debates or open forums to educate the students about their initiatives for the approaching semester, the presidential candidates are leaving fellow students in the dark.
Even if potential candidates don’t decide to work with The Daily Cougar to help students make informed votes, we hope they will use other measures to educate the student body at large of their platforms.