Earlier this morning, I wrote this post about the recent vote on whether to extend the increased student fees that started in 2010. This post will ask lots of questions about the election that was just held. First, though, it’s important to remind people of the administration’s recent behavior:
In an open statement at the Dec. 12 SG meeting she spoke of a meeting between Petersen, herself and Vice President of Student Life and Development Wanda Overland.
“When I got to her office she brought in Eric Petersen, and the two of them began accusing me of tampering with the elections results, and informed me that any case we tried to make against Athletics was invalid because it did not follow the schedule timeline that neither the chief justice or I were made aware of on the due dates of the Judicial cases,” Downing said. “Then they got on the topic of my own moral and ethical standard causing a problem and then spoke of the chief justice and myself being part of a group to take down Athletics.”
First, Vice President Overland and Student Government President Petersen rejected Ms. Downing’s claims because Ms. Downing allegedly didn’t document the electioneering. That’s rich because she witnessed the electioneering first hand. If that isn’t enough, then Overland and Petersen allegedly accused Ms. Downing of being part of a group that wanted to “take down Athletics.” What’s disgusting is the fact that they made this accusation without any documentation.
What’s wrong with this picture? Courtney Downing witnessed the electioneering but didn’t follow the rules that nobody knew about and is vilified and intimidated. Ms. Downing’s intimidators accuse her of a wild conspiracy theory that they can’t document. Not only does the administration side with Ms. Downing’s accusers but they’re participants in this intimidation.
What’s particularly upsetting is that VP Overland cared more about Ms. Downing not following procedures than she cared about the fact that some students had been accused of electioneering. Had I been in VP Overland’s position, my first objective would’ve been to find out if the accusations were verifiable. It wouldn’t have been to intimidate (bully is another verb that fits) a student over not following process.
It’s also noteworthy that VP Borland and SG President Petersen eventually resorted to personal attacks. That’s the quintessential definition of the politics of personal destruction. It’s true, too, that this is a case of shooting the messenger.
That’s upsetting but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This student fee increase started in FY2010. At the time, President Potter said that the fee increase was needed. If they didn’t pass it, he said they might have to eliminate the football program. It’s important that we put this in historical context. FY2010 was the peak year of SCSU enrollment. That year, the FYE enrollment was 15,096. That year, the dorms were 96% full. Tuition revenues should’ve been the highest they’ve ever been. Dorm rental revenues should’ve been through the roof, too.
With SCSU having that much revenue flowing in, why would they need to close the football program if the student fee increase didn’t pass?
Here’s another question that hasn’t been asked, much less answered. If the SG and the administration were worried about documenting the wrongdoing, why didn’t they care that voting was electronic? Electronic voting can’t be reconstructed the vote if it’s a tight vote and a recount is required.
Here’s another question: why didn’t the SG and the administration publicize the vote so all students could participate and cast an informed vote? The student fee increase literally affects every student on campus. Shouldn’t the SG and the administration work to make sure everyone knows what’s happening and the possible ramifications? If they shouldn’t have publicized it, why shouldn’t they have publicized it more?
One possibility is obvious: athletes were certain to turn out. If other students didn’t know about the vote, student-athletes could win in a landslide. That appears to be what happened.
Here’s another question: Why was the vote held near the end of the semester? End of semester is a terrible time for student participation because it’s the most hectic time of the semester. Had the SG wanted greater student participation, they should’ve held the vote in late January, not early December.
The more I think about the timing of the vote and the almost non-existent publicity of this important vote, coupled with the threats and intimidation against Ms. Downing for doing the right thing, the more I question the integrity of this vote.
If the SG is genuinely interested in a clean vote with greater student participation, they should announce that this vote won’t be certified and that a new vote will be held in January. Further, the SG and the administration should publicize the next election so the students can cast informed votes.
If these things aren’t done, we’ll understand what the SG and the administration wanted to do.
Technorati: St. Cloud State, Wanda Overland, Earl Potter, Eric Petersen, Student Government, Student Athletes, Athletic Department, Student Fees, Student Bullying, Electioneering, Courtney Downing, Election Committee