There are many positives that came as a result of this campaign, regardless of the outcome. One of the biggest hallmarks was the voter turnout, which approached 12,000 students. Though this may seem like a humble figure next to a student population of over 63,000, this number represents a huge leap from a few years ago. One reason for a low voter turnout rate is that in 2014, legislation was passed to ban food incentives at voting booths.
There is a lot of good that comes from this. Think about it: a student could approach a candidate’s booth and click a couple buttons in exchange for a piece of pizza or a smoothie. There were many students who couldn’t even tell you who they voted for as soon as they stepped away from the booth.
This year, students were engaged in conversations with candidates to form a reasonable opinion of who they would choose to vote for. While some students took more time to think about their decision than others, it was a great feeling to see engagement between candidates and the student body. It set the table for a shift from traditional SGA leadership.
One of the main complaints our ticket had about previous executive leadership is that it lacked a face, it wasn’t transparent enough for the students. Presidents-to-be took advantage of the fact that students quickly forgot about SGA, enabling them to not follow through on many of their campaign promises. Now, with so many more students talking about SGA, people in leadership positions will have to face the consequence of public opinion if they don’t hold up their promises.
For now, it is important that we have faith in the current leadership. To curse them from the beginning would be counterproductive. Nick and Cristina’s slate is clean until proven otherwise.
We will continue to remain active by running for seats in the Senate. Through these positions we plan to work with the other branches of SGA to advocate for positive change and to hold all leadership accountable to the student interest, including ourselves.
The most important lesson here is that one must have patience and humility in the fight for change. A mistake seen time and time again throughout history is that people will compromise their character as a means of taking a shortcut to power. Though this approach may result in instant-gratification, its foundation is weak. This was a mistake we never made, even in times where the shortcut seemed like it could’ve helped. Because of this, we fostered long lasting relationships, not only with each other but with the student body as well. These are relationships built on principles that went deeper than the interests of a political campaign.
We had the pleasure of laughing and crying with diverse people who make up the student body. How can this be seen as a loss? We are impassioned by our purpose. The only we way we lose is by giving up.
As students of this university, we possess the ability to construct our community into a model for society to learn from. Regardless of whether SGA is a big deal to you, it should be seen as an opportunity to change the standards of politics and what we support with the power of a vote.
The fundamental qualification for leadership is character. Sometimes those with character fall short of those who have mastered the political system. The ultimate message is for us to take advantage of the beauty of democracy and keep working hard to make sure that character stands strong.
To deliver this message properly will take time.
Josh and Jad were candidates in the 2017 SGA election at UCF. While they did not win, they continue to be leaders on campus. You can keep up with them at facebook.com/joshandjad