Guest Commentary: Lots of questions, but no answers

I noticed REDvolution party members at a College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senate candidate debate I attended frequently shouting to vote a "straight ticket" or to "vote REDvolution." It’s curious to find this mentality coupled with the Student Government Association Senate’s recent decision to remove party labels from the ballots.

SGA Senate members and those apologetic to the SGA’s legislation and will, have howled at the foul reporting produced by The Daily Cougar. That, strictly speaking, "parties won’t appear on the ballot" is their defense. It’s not a rule, they argue further, that CLASS Senate hopefuls and SGA Senate constituents cannot assemble and band together (otherwise presenting the opportunity for charges of unconstitutionality); it is only that the ballot has undergone some structural readjustment. It seems the SGA Senate concluded a legislative decision for a typeface change was necessary. The ballot got a fancy new dress.

It’s been argued that the point of the ballot redesign obtained an immediate and agreeable effect. Now those manic devils wishing to fight for halting the increase in student fees, albeit its imminence, or to put recycling bins where they’re obviously needed must rumble and sweat along the campaign trail for their seats. But is that likely?

During the question-and-answer round, questions such as "Why haven’t you guys been [grassroots] campaigning?" and "How do you expect us to trust that you’ll have time to ‘fight’ for us if you don’t campaign?" were raised. Oh, they campaigned: through Facebook and with posters. A majority of the CLASS Senate candidates, except for a few (I recall one being REDvolution), threw themselves at the mercy of the audience. Obstacles such as "work" and "school" seemed to furnish a sweeping credence to a false dilemma. Our devils are looking less frightening, less politically astute.

Most interesting was the mention of M.D. Anderson Library and its possible Starbucks project. "How would you respond if a Starbucks were to appear in the library before the library were to become a 24/7 gig for, as has been presumptuously put, late-night toiling away at the books?" So, how would you?

Asked before that were several quick questions: Do you support 100 percent fair trade coffee on campus? Do you think the library should never close? Many said "no," and all said "yes," so I said "interesting:" the relationship between the fair trade movement on campus and that sweet library spot is a seemingly forgotten one, despite the legislative link on campus.

I doubt any candidate at that debate has read bill UB44002, passed by the Senate of the 44th SGA on April 4, 2007, that reads "The location of the 100 percent Fair-Trade Certified coffee kiosk will be in the 24-hour lounge in the M.D. Anderson Library, and should be established within a reasonable time frame."

Quickly now: Do those who answered "no" not support the SGA Senate’s informed legislative decision-making? Do they reject giving Starbucks competitors a chance, even a small kiosk of a chance? If so, then what is the point of asking such a question? The bill has already been passed. Read it, and get on it, candidates.

The redress of the ballot presumably forced Senate candidates to campaign, averting their chances of riding on party success and affiliation, but, as was admitted, campaigning is discourse for the back burner.

Perhaps the SGA shot its own foot with its legislative decision-or at least potential Senate members’ feet.

But shouldn’t the removal of party labels from the ballot carry a more idealistic and commendable tune? I doubt "Vote straight REDvolution," properly soothes anyone’s ears. Regardless of what the "rules" say, students are criticizing political character, and the Senate should expect that "removing the label" or similar desktop publishing gimmickry does not solve the actual problem of uninformed party politicking.

Aaron Alexander, a philosophy senior, can be reached via [email protected].

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