By Robin Gericke, Features Editor
Seniors will now be allowed to vote in future Executive Cabinet elections, thanks to a proposal recently passed by Asbury Student Congress. The proposal also outlines new guidelines for voting procedures.
Junior Shelby Lawhorn, Anchored ASC Representative, proposed the changes. “Essentially, I wanted elections to be a little less biased and a lot more inclusive,” she said. “I was inspired by the idea when I myself ran for Executive Cabinet (EC). So many students would come up to me and tell me they wished they could vote too! Thus, I suggested the idea to AIM, it was approved, and I wrote the proposal and then presented it to both SGA and ASC.”
In addition to opening up voting to seniors, the proposal also focused on current student government members promoting candidates. “It was a multi-faceted proposal,” Lawhorn explained. “Essentially the proposal would allow everyone, all classes, to vote for both EC . . . My argument in the proposal was that these positions affect everyone on campus. If you’re affected by a change in the community, you deserve to have a say in that change. The proposal also contained stipulations banning Class Cabinet members and EC members from using Student Congress resources (like the class Facebook page) to support one candidate over the other. Lastly, it stated that the Elections Committee chair was explicitly forbidden from publicly endorsing one candidate over another.”
The proposal also called for allowing all students, not just seniors, to vote on class sponsor positions; however, senior Ben Calicott, current freshman sponsor, proposed an amendment to not allow freshman to vote for Class Sponsors. As a result, an amendment was passed to allow juniors and seniors to vote for a trial period. Voting may open to underclassmen at a later time.
Calicott said he thinks the changes in the voting policy will have a positive, though marginal, effect.
“If we’re being honest, I think people primarily vote for their friends as opposed to being well-informed and having a collected opinion on who will do the best job at that position,” he said. “The hope is that seniors will have had time to push past how a person makes them feel and vote for them because they are the better option.”
Lawhorn believes the social media stipulations will help with this problem. “While the proposal was going through SGA, there was a lot of debate about the social media aspect of this proposal. Members of various class cabinets didn’t want to lose the opportunity of supporting their friends,” Lawhorn said. “I totally get that, but as a leader in your class your opinion shows favoritism and discourages people from voting or even running for a position they would be great at! This is an opportunity to change elections to be more than a popularity contest within your class.”
The new voting policy “gives all students at Asbury a say in his or her community, the legacy they leave behind,” said Lawhorn. “Underclassmen were already able to vote for EC, but now seniors can join them as well. What creates our community will at last be a unified voice.”