In the election of 2003-2004, three of the top four positions onthe SGI Executive Board went uncontested. St. John’s trulywitnessed a display of the absolute political apathy oftenprevalent on our campus. Thankfully this year we have a realelection, complete with two serious political tickets and oneindependent running for senior senator.
Of the many issues discussed throughout the past week, thequestion of government transparency is of the utmost importance toThe TORCH as a newspaper. Every back office deal, every closedmeeting, every unrecorded vote undermines both the press and thegovernment that it reports on. The existing ExCEL ticket promised,”completely open meetings” but unfortunately did not followthrough. The TORCH has been fighting with Student Government sinceFebruary in an attempt to have reporters at Budget Committeemeetings. Reporters are currently still barred.
On the basis of transparency in government there is no questionthat The TORCH must endorse the VISION ticket. While there are noguarantees that they will be any different than the currentadministration, they have made government transparency and SGIreform a key part of their platform. The TORCH arrived at thisopinion after considering several events that in our view damagedthe reputation of the P.O.W.E.R. ticket.
Most significant in our consideration were the words of theproposed treasurer for the P.O.W.E.R ticket, Oscar Londono, whosaid at the Feb. 23 SGI meeting that TORCH reporters should bebarred from SGI budget meetings. The recommendation of the BudgetCommittee is a vital part of securing SGI funds and because of thisit is imperative that The TORCH be present to hear theproceedings.
The question must be asked, why would TORCH reporters be athreat to government proceedings? When considering the problemsthat organizations such as the Asian Students Association haveencountered when trying to obtain finances, or the argument betweenTreasurer Andrew Jarrett and Vice President and P.O.W.E.R. tickethead Louis Saavedra that occurred at this week’s budget meeting, itbecomes more obvious why The TORCH must be allowed at thesemeetings. Real and substantive decisions are being made, and theyare being made in secret.
There is no guarantee that the VISON ticket will change thestatus quo. Like P.O.W.E.R., their ticket is composed of members ofthe current SGI executive board that bars reporters from meetings.Unlike P.O.W.E.R., however, they have at least made open meetingrules fundamental to their ticket. While there is a questionwhether that platform will be remembered after elections, would-beP.O.W.E.R. treasurer Londono has made his ticket’s positionclear.
With this in mind it is necessary to point out that the decisionto endorse the VISION ticket was not something arrived at easily.With careful deliberation that weighed the platforms, debates andrecords of all candidates, we believe that the VISION ticket wouldserve the student body most effectively.
In the words of Goethe, ruling is easy, but governing isdifficult. We hope that students take this into account when votingnext week.