Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: IU Student Government isn’t worth the drama. It could be.

<p>The IU Student Government Election Commission declared the Elevate campaign the preliminary winner of the IUSG president and vice president election April 6. There were an unprecedented 23 total election complaints.</p>

The IU Student Government Election Commission declared the Elevate campaign the preliminary winner of the IUSG president and vice president election April 6. There were an unprecedented 23 total election complaints.

The IU Student Government Election Commission finally announced the preliminary results of last week’s elections Tuesday night. The Elevate campaign, led by juniors president Ky Freeman and vice president Madeline Dederichs, won.

Well, more exactly, Elevate won for now. 

It wouldn’t be IUSG if there weren’t more drama: the preliminary results may be overturned by the IUSG Supreme Court.

“We are confident that Inspire won this year’s election by a significant and historic margin,” the Inspire campaign, led by juniors Dorynn Mentor and Carling Louden, said in a statement to the Indiana Daily Student. “We will respectfully appeal the Commission’s decision to the Student Body Supreme Court.”

Related: [Elevate campaign declared preliminary winner of IUSG Election, Inspire disqualified]

Does anyone else have some déjà vu from last November? Don’t blame yourself. The pre-law and political science students in the Inspire campaign are having too much fun role playing their dream jobs, and it’s not your fault.

Freeman said IUSG representatives imitating actual politicians harms and detracts from the organization’s mission.  

“The day that we commit to mirroring exactly what happens in our national government, we have lost,” he said. “I think that is part of what we need to fundamentally fix about this system. If this is the normal of what these elections look like, this should be completely thrown away.”

The stakes here are much, much lower than the past U.S. presidential election. Even so, I probably won’t forgive Inspire for reminding me of that four-day window in November when we didn’t know who would be president.

As with then, now we wait for a possible Supreme Court decision.

Related: [IUSG Election Commission disqualifies Inspire, to review 3 complaints against Elevate, Legacy]

The clownery of the Inspire campaign’s 18 complaints alleging election code violations against Elevate and Inspire is overwhelming. Compared to what IUSG has shown itself capable of under the current Inspire administration, the campaign has bordered on buffoonery. 

The only follow-through we’ve seen on Inspire’s April 2020 petition to give all students a 25% tuition refund was using the phone numbers collected to mass message potential voters this year

In a deeply cynical strategy, the Inspire tickets — of last year and this year — have circulated petitions with obvious mass appeal ahead of IUSG elections. Last year, it was a tuition refund. This year, it was to save fall and spring break.

“We have a responsibility to do this work, and it does feel like they wanted to sidestep that,” junior and Legacy presidential candidate Carrick Moon said. “Campaign strategy speaks.” 

Inspire was able to collect more than 20,000 students’ phone numbers from both petitions, according to the election commission’s complaint response. This move, along with not providing a clear avenue to opt-out of future messages, led to Inspire’s disqualification Tuesday night.

IUSG doesn’t have to be this way.

Related: [IUSG Election Commission releases 5 complaints against Inspire campaign]

If Elevate’s victory is upheld by the IUSG Supreme Court, then students will quickly see what it should have always been.

“People haven’t known how much work IUSG can do for them because there has been no transparency nor engagement from these students in the past,” Dederichs said. “Their access to the provost and administrative figures has become protected. Those spaces and those conversations should be completely transparent to the student body.”

An Elevate administration would engage with students and organizations already fighting for change on and around campus, Dederichs said. Most importantly, it would build a coalition capable of voicing those needs to the university. 

With the support of IUSG, university administrators would have to listen.

Related: [IUSG Inspire campaign files 10 complaints against Elevate, 8 against Legacy]

“We understand what we’re here to do, and that is to elevate student voices,” Freeman said. “We have a true opportunity here to shift the culture here by leading with a little bit more love and empathy.”

IUSG’s flair for the dramatic isn’t likely to end, but it may soon be directed at the university instead of other students. Elevate’s team can do just that.

“This election season has been phenomenal because so many more people have become interested in IUSG,” Dederichs said. “That could really kickstart all of this coalition-building we’re talking about.”         

Kyle Linder (he/him) is a senior studying journalism and international relations. He wants everyone to join a union.

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