Practicing Politics

Entering Florida A&M as a first-year student, one of the primary opportunities of acclimation to our HBCU culture is the Student Government Association’s election time.

Students listen to the platforms, accept the fliers and vote for the candidates, but after all of that, some students are flustered with the idea that it was nothing more than an a glorified popularity contest.

During election week, it seems there is at least one student candidate with his or her campaign team posted on any given route to any facility that you may be walking to. Freshmen quickly realize it’s inescapable.
Annoyance, apathy or interest is painted on students’ faces as yet another flier is thrust in their hands and they are coerced into listening to yet another campaign pitch.

However, when the elections are over and the candidates now hold positions in SGA, many students are left feeling betrayed and saddened when the person they voted for doesn’t live up to his or her campaign promises.

Were they delayed in the hot Florida sun, postponed from their next class or made to miss out on precious cafeteria time to listen to a platform that would never even come to fruition? What activities, programs or events have these individuals organized for the very student body that voted for them?

Some students feel like they’ve been duped to vote for people who only pretended to be a friend who was interested in their thoughts and opinions because they needed them at that time to gain popularity and nice titles on their résumés. The frustration of students can be felt across campus when they notice the newly elected student officials are no longer standing on the platforms that helped them get into office.

But isn’t this how politics works in the real world?

While many students view student elections as a time to avoid the Set, others see the true advantages in the existence of student campaigning.

Student elections provide less politically astute students to observe the process in which all government works, including student government. Many see the student elections as “popularity contests” and deem the candidates as “fake,” but in actuality, they are seeing the reality of politics in general.

Students should remember that what they are seeing is just part of a larger problem at the heart of government and politics that can only be changed if they remain invested in the political process after they are handed candy and a flier on the Set. Elected candidates will be held to higher standards and will better ensure their platform ideals are fulfilled.

Individuals who run for positions in government are comparable to people who need petitions signed. They don’t care who signs their petition just as some SGA candidates are indifferent to who votes for them. Ultimately, they just want to reach their goal.
However, hope still lies in candidates who win positions in SGA and consistently display their dedication and sincerity. They may not live up to every platform they had – and let’s be honest, it’s not exactly probable to have a tight-knit friendship with everyone who voted for them – but you know they made an effort.

The evidence of their labor is on the cleaned stairs that students use to exit, in the dorms that were and are in the process of being built, in the longer hours that Coleman Library is open and upgraded computers that are available to students.
It’s true that some individuals in student government are only in it for the seat and title, but there are also people in SGA who have proved that they are willing to work hard for their campus, students and faculty, and they are appreciated.