With this year’s round of shameful student government elections finally over, it’s time we took a hard look at ASUCR, the elections process and Kappa Sigma. Oh, my apologies. When they’re running for elected office they go by the name [YOUR]Side, or [OUR]Voice. They are now known as the Associated Students of UC Riverside 2016-2017, and it’s time we talked about why they wanted your vote so badly.
One: They’re in it for the money. ASUCR executive board members make an taxed stipend of $9,900. The vice president of finance position, which up until now, was not an elected but an appointed position, also makes an taxed stipend of $9,900. This wouldn’t be a problem if that money did not come directly from the pockets of the student body. You’d be shocked to learn how few people know undergraduates pay $10.50 in student fees for ASUCR. Yes, you directly fund the stipend of the appointed VP of finance. Do you know what the VP of finance does?
Two: They get to make the rules so they can keep making money. The students responsible for regulating and overseeing a fair elections process, the elections director and the judicial council, are positions appointed by the judicial council and ASUCR executive branch, respectively, and ratified by the senate. It’s obvious how big an effect the senate has; just look at the results. Will a single member of Orange Party be sitting on next year’s horseshoe? No. There’s a reason for this. The senate did something huge this year: they legalized the practice of laptopping. When the senate did this, they effectively legalized bullying. Thanks to the senate, the trend of coercive, deceptive and avaricious election practices that have enabled [YOUR]Side/[OUR]Voice to take ASUCR for two years has become UCR’s political culture. What does that tell you about the party that will be sitting on the horseshoe come fall?
Three: Does vice president of finance look good on a resume? What about executive vice president? How about president? I feel like this one goes without saying.
For the students who have witnessed the elections in the past years, we’re not misled. We know ASUCR is a shit-show. But can we really blame students for wanting to get ahead, for wanting to build a strong resume, for wanting to make a little money? If you want to give your fellow students the benefit of the doubt, you’ve obviously never met a political science major.
If we’re gonna talk Tartan Soul, the issue student body has with ASUCR is not the lack of accountability, excellence or integrity. It’s the lack of respect. When they’re candidates vying for a position, they want to be “representatives,” they want to build a “community,” they want to be on “your side.” Once they get elected they ditch the Bell Tower and move into their swanky offices on the second floor of the HUB. The campaign signs come down, the fake conversations subside and Pierce Lawn becomes fraternity row again. Our “elected student leaders” put on their monogrammed polo-shirts, and we don’t hear a peep from them until spring quarter rolls around again. We forget about the elections and ASUCR, and keep unknowingly paying $10.50 for the VP of finance’s 10k paycheck.
They get an office, a resume, a stipend and we get … a fucking sweatshirt? Of course they keep us in the dark.
Ostensibly, the results of this year’s election not only represent how little the average student really knows about ASUCR, but how willing the candidates are to take advantage of this. Laptopping enables coercion and bullying. The party system perpetuates a fragmented student body. Lack of communication between the “associated students” and the actual students exploits ignorance and inhibits any chance we have of utilizing ASUCR to its full potential. In a student government as deceitful as ours, this system does not constitute democracy. The newly elected students don’t care about community or connectivity. The opposition and controversy they drum up every year only demonstrates their distance from us. It is absurd to continue to finance people who allow and thrive on dishonesty and disrespect. It is even more absurd to vote for them.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the $9,900 earned by ASUCR executive board members is “untaxed”. The article also wrongly stated that the elections director and judicial council positions are appointed by the ASUCR executive branch. In truth, the judicial council nominates the elections director and the executive branch nominates a judicial council member, both of which are ratified by the senate. Furthermore, the article wrongly stated that the judicial council “legalized the practice of laptopping” when, in fact, the legalization of such was handled solely by the Legislative Review Committee and finalized by the senate. The correct changes have been made and the Highlander regrets these errors.