ASGCC Elections — ‘Who Is This Person?’

You dread it. You avoid it like going to the dentist. Should you get sucked into it and be lucky enough to escape, you pop out a different person. What is this place? It is the vortex of ASGCC’s campaign infestation in the middle of Plaza Vaquero during elections week.

Let’s just say, you have a better chance dodging underground land mines than going through the hoopla without a flier or two or dozen in tow. And you thought parking was a nightmare.

Most students on campus will go completely out of their way to avoid being mauled by the vulturous candidates who cram in designated parts of the school, throwing meaningless and worthless fliers in your face, screaming numbers at you and, quite frankly, making the trip to classes and other parts of campus something synonymous with telemarketers who call during dinner. Election week is a nightmare for every student who has to deal with these kinds of obnoxious and highly annoying behavior.

The truth is, ASGCC is the most important student group on campus. Sitting in on a meeting, one can easily see the amount of power and effect they have on things that directly affect each student. The amount of work and dedication they have is not to be undermined. In fact, much of the paper that you have before you is funded through the student services fee that ASGCC allocates to student activities like El Vaquero.

The animosity certainly does not lie with the group itself. But that is precisely why this poor display of campaigning is such a problem.

Because of the importance of these elected positions, it is crucial that the student body be taken more seriously than to have fliers thrown into their face and be expected to blindly walk into a polling booth and vote for whoever number 45 is.

“It’s a very confusing process because these people just give you fliers and you don’t know what they [candidates] stand for,” said student Erik Estrada. “It’s really annoying. It’s like, what do you stand for? What are you going to change? What do you want to do here? It’s so stupid.”

Student Jason Hardwick agrees. “It’s annoying and confusing having to choose between eight or nine people screaming eight or nine different things at you at one time and it actually drives people away from wanting to vote.” On these fliers, which consequently end up littered in every corner of the campus and the surrounding community for a week, we see phrases like “Vote for commitment!” and promises to make changes, improve the campus and make things more fun.

Students don’t care about promises; we care about how those promises are going to be fulfilled. Don’t tell us what your number is on the ballot. Tell us who you are and what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to do it. You won’t have to tell us your number because then we’ll remember your name.

Ten fliers thrown into our face with ten numbers screamed into our ears in front of the administration building where candidates wait for us is the most laughable display of campaigning. “They’re handing you these things – they’re like trading cards,” said student Teni Hakopian. “They wait until the last two days and start handing out these fliers and I’m just like, ‘Who is this person?'”

Why not host a debate? How about an open conference where students can ask candidates important questions in an organized fashion? How about candidates go out on a limb and try to spend less time making pointless fliers and then shoving them in people’s faces, and more time just talking to a few people?

Senator of Campus Relations Diana Sarkisyan did not hand out a single flier or put up a single poster. But she was re-elected.

Candidates say they try talking to students but that we don’t want to listen — but that is no excuse. You have to make us listen. What you shouldn’t do is settle for student apathy and make useless fliers and throw them at people. Even candidates themselves agree that fliers dominate campaigning in the election. “This is just a contest about who can get their flier in your face the fastest,” said Ron Diashian who ran, and was defeated, for a senator of administration position.

Still, amazingly some candidates believe that handing out fliers is somehow productive. “I do believe passing out fliers is effective,” said Abeer Jaradeh who ran, defeated, for President of ASGCC. “It familiarizes the students with the candidate.”

Wrong. It does not familiarize anyone with candidates — unless by familiarizing you simply mean knowing what color flier goes with which numbered candidate.”They just hand you fliers and you don’t even know these people,” said student Ledian Dergrigorian. “It’s so random.”

As if this was not bad enough, we then saw candidates interrupt classrooms to campaign. This is severely crossing the line and is far beyond the irritating telemarketer that calls during dinner. Imagine the telemarketer walking into your dining room, turning off your TV as you’re eating and talking about long-distance calling plans. At least with telemarketers you can ask not to be called again. But with these campaigners, “no” seems to mean, “Look, maybe you can stuff a few fliers in my shirt and pants.”Do not interrupt us during class to give the even more useless, rehearsed campaign lines that we hear outside.

Accordingly, teachers should not be permitting this to happen. The classroom is not the appropriate place for candidates to endorse themselves, especially with useless speeches.

It is bad enough to have to be annoyed outside, but to be interrupted while we are in a class we paid to be in is completely outrageous.

Oftentimes these candidates visit several teachers — some of the time without making prior arrangements with the professor like they are supposed to — and walk into two or three of our classes telling us to vote for a number and that they will do a good job.

This means nothing to us.

Still, both Jaradeh and Vice President of Campus Organizations Aaron Keshishian agreed that hosting a debate or an organized event for students and the candidates would be a good idea, but hesitated because they wondered, “how many people would show up?” said Keshishian.

This is no excuse. The job of a student body officer is to ignite involvement and push students to care. Certainly for the ones who do care, would it not be worth it to hold the event for them?

Voter turnout reached a record this year for ASGCC with more than 1,600 votes. If that kind of involvement has been able to steadily increase, is it not worth it to try and increase, dare we say, genuine concerns of the student? You have to start somewhere.

Maybe if the event was moderated, hosted or featured by a high-profile speaker in the political realm, this may speed the process. But should we simply assume students don’t care enough to vote informatively, lower the standards and resort to fliers? Give us more credit.

If candidates want themselves to be taken seriously by students, they must first take students seriously. Assuming nobody cares and expecting them to simply vote for a number so you can get elected is selfish and irresponsible.

At the same token, part of the responsibility to improve our political process at GCC lies in the hands of students. We cannot simply receive fliers and vote for numbers.

It is our responsibility to stop the campaigners in their tracks and talk to them, instead of acting like a car veering through traffic. They will answer questions because every vote counts.

We must hold our elected officials accountable. First ask questions, make an informed decision – and then vote. Don’t settle for a flier and an “I voted” sticker just to get them to leave you alone.

ASGCC President Henan L. Joof gave students good advice: “Put the people to the test and ask them questions.”

Let’s hope for the sake of democratic elections, students and campaigners can unite for a real election instead of a who-can-spend-more-at-Kinko’s shebang.