By: Ronan O’Comartun
In my last election coverage article, by saying “Student Government at BSA is still in its infancy, and there is a glimmer of hope that one day it will evolve into something impactful,” I did not mean some weird co-parenting cop-out allowing both Chloe McNeill and Jamir Lawson to take office.
Former President Quinn Bryant made a loudspeaker announcement the afternoon of May 25th revealing that Jamir Lawson and Chloe McNeill will be Student Government Association co-Presidents.
The decision was reached after a 45 minute discussion between Lawson, McNeill, former President Quinn Bryant, and the two SGA advisors Meg Grouzard and Jocelyn Providence.
One of the two opponents won by four votes (this counts as one percent).
No one besides Grouzard and Providence knows the final results concerning who came out on top.
Four votes is a small margin to win by but it still means that someone won.
While the ratio of the victory may have been small, that does not diminish the fact that this outcome does not benefit the students, but rather McNeill and Lawson’s personal interests.
By acting as co-President to each other, both McNeill and Lawson get what they want: a small amount of influence and a nice line on their college resumes.
The SGA, advised by Election runners Meg Grouzard and Jocelyn Providence, refusing to release the official ballot results creates suspicion among the student body and undermines the process of free and fair elections.
Why is there not a student representative looking over the final votes? Why is the SGA administration keeping the winner secret?
By allowing McNeill and Lawson to co parent BSA, the SGA diminishes its role, making whoever holds office look like the winner of a sad participation trophy. Everybody wins! What’s even sadder than winning a participation trophy is not winning a participation trophy – my thoughts and prayers go out to Day’Shaun Barrett.
How can you expect to make the administration and foundation that already does not take student government seriously have an ounce of respect for the student body when they have Bert and Ernie representing them?
“I also pushed for our SGA to be more serious…damn… a lot of members who were elected, …damn, this actually sounds crazy. A lot of members… damn. A lot of members that were elected kind of took it as a joke at first, and only a handful of students, in my opinion, took it seriously. So I wanna bring more seriousness and more officialness to our SGA,” Lawson says of the BSA foundation not taking SGA seriously.
Lawson continued, “because when people take it as a joke, and take it as like, you know, like, oh, blah, blah, blah, it kind of loses its value. And especially from an adults’ point of view. They’re reluctant, because they think, oh, these are kids, they can’t sit in on these meetings.”
I did not edit these quotes: Lawson felt so strongly that he needed to say “damn” three times.
These two individuals sat down in a room and decided that instead of taking political responsibility over who lost and who won, they would rather the winner remain unknown so that they could both take office.
McNeill says, “Fear of the lack of political influence wasn’t ever a personal issue for me. If I lost, then I lost. I feel like this way we can both address the things that we were campaigning for while also having the support of each other for working and for reflections. I think we can tackle more issues with both of us there.”
I personally believe that it will prove more difficult for both candidates to navigate their political duties whilst having to agree or compromise on everything.
There are two ways to fix this political disaster, both that were decided against by the candidates.
- A runoff between McNeill and Lawson takes place.
- Whoever won by four votes takes office.
These are not my original ideas, but the ideas presented at the sit down between Lawson and McNeill by Grouzard and Providence.
A runoff would yield similar results because of how few votes Day’Shaun received, but that is still no reason to not have one as it sustains principles of democracy and allows the voices of all students to be heard.
It’s somewhat bizarre that one of the solutions to this problem is actually the very outcome we initially anticipated – the logical and intended result of this event – yet here we are.
What will happen next time when a candidate wins by seven votes instead of four, will their opponent be outraged that there wasn’t some sort of co-president seance?
Lawson and McNeill’s reluctance to have a runoff or simply allow the real winner to be revealed makes it clear they would rather have this political calamity take place than face the idea that they might lose.
I have respect for the SGA and its advisors, and I want to emphasize that this article does not intend to criticize them personally. However, I strongly believe that democratic procedures should be upheld in a democratic election.
The bottom line is that no matter how little SGA actually matters at BSA, students voted under the assumption that one president would be elected and represent them and that is not the way things played out.
To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured photo: Jamir Lawson and Chloe McNeill, the two SGA presidents. Photos by Asad Ali for the BSA Muse.