Editorial: SGA allows the abuse of its elections


Amber Siegel

Two people walking on a tightrope between Holmes Student Center and Founders Memorial Library. The recent SGA election found four candidates breaking SGA’s vague rules.

A sanction, in relation to the NIU Student Government Association, is a reprimand given to a person who is found guilty and admits to having broken SGA policies, university policies or, in the recent case of four elected candidates, electioneering.

The SGA’s rules on sanctioning are unreasonably loose.

For a candidate to be disqualified during election days, the SGA Board of Elections must find the candidate guilty of three separate infractions of election procedures. During non-election days, the candidate must be found guilty of five separate violations.

The wording in the disqualification section of the SGA bylaws is vague, not specifying if the number of sanctions a candidate accumulates carries between non-election and election periods.

Allowing candidates to break policy and election procedures, as seen in the recent election, leaves room for candidates to stretch the rules. Candidates can easily abuse regulations to unethically influence voters at least twice, with little repercussion.

The responsibilities of many positions within the SGA have tangible outcomes for students. Apart from representing the interests of NIU’s student body, the governing body’s Treasurer, alongside the Finance Committee, receives money from student fees and distributes it to student organizations. These fees add up quickly, with $5.10 each credit hour paid to the SGA by enrolled undergrad students.

Each of the four candidates that received a sanction during the recent SGA election won their respective race. Though it is important to note the newly elected SGA President, Olivia Newman, and Vice President, Kaylin Lee, ran unopposed, the other two candidates for Student Trustee and Treasurer resulted in Tim Moore’s winning with 65% of the vote and Landon Larkin’s winning with 77% of the vote respectively.

Even if the candidates were unaware they broke the rules while doing so, the punishment should extend beyond a requirement to remove unapproved campaign materials and a four-hour sanction overnight.

If candidates can break the rules, knowingly or unknowingly with little repercussion, there is very little presented to show voters that a candidate will be capable of fairly executing their duties once in a position.

The ability for candidates to break the rules multiple times, especially while other candidates abide by them, is strictly unfair to students and the electoral process. 

The SGA needs to implement a rigid way of holding candidates accountable for their prospective constituency. Voters should base their choice on the campaign, not how creatively a candidate can bend the rules to influence them.